Milk Thistle Benefits for a Super Healthy Liver & Body

protect liver with milk thistle

Yes, stress, diet pollution, toxins, prescription drugs, trauma, aging, illness sound like a list of everyday world problems a lot of people encounter through their life.

It is also a list of all the things that can negatively affect your liver. You might be suffering from a liver that is stressed or you might be one of the 30 million Americans who are battling liver disease. This organ is a powerhouse responsible for so many facets of your health.

Milk Thistle Benefits

But, here’s the best part:

I am going to explain and show you how to keep your liver healthy. One way is by using Milk Thistle.

Milk Thistle is a plant whose seeds and leaves demonstrate supportive and restorative properties for your liver and other organs. It can even help with hangovers as well.

What’s So Great About My Liver?

Protect Liver With Milk Thistle

Your liver is your biggest organ, performing more important duties in a day than your heart or lungs. This powerhouse organ is located on your right side, under your diaphragm, behind your rib cage.

First of all, its proximity to your stomach allows it full access to some important digestive functions like breaking down fats and proteins. It also stores all of your iron, Vitamins A, B, D, E and K.  As well, the energy you get from your food is created and stored here.

Another important task is filtering your blood to collect needed nutrients and to remove anything harmful. Most importantly your liver is on the front lines in protecting you from toxins, bacteria, harmful chemicals and from last Saturday night’s over indulgence of red wine.  

You might be wondering:

What Can Go Wrong?

If you do not look after your liver, there are over 100 diseases that can affect your liver.  Here is a list of some of the most common:

  • Hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Cancer
  • Liver Failure
  • Alcohol related liver disease

With your liver responsible for so many things, it is easy to see why liver disease can be the most devastating and deadly.

But here’s the kicker:

The Benefits of Milk Thistle

I listed above some of the things responsible for liver health issues and I am sure you are saying, “How can I protect against all those things?”

In today’s world, you are not going to be able to get rid of all of those problems so you need to  learn how to protect your liver. Diet, of course, plays a role but one healthy, easy way to prevent liver disease and even reverse current damage is by adding Milk Thistle supplement to your diet.

Sounds Like a Weed…

Milk TMilk thistle flowerhistle is a flowering herb, from the Asteraceae plant family, cousin to the Daisy and Sunflower.  It grows mostly in Mediterranean countries and California but viable anywhere warm.

It has been used in homeopathic and conventional medicine for over 2000 years. Its leaves and seeds hold an ingredient called Silymarin.  

Silymarin?

Silymarin functions as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Silymarin can be broken down further into a compound called Silybin. This compound makes up about  50-70%  of the Silymarin and has the most impact on the body. It also preserves glutathione, which is  a master antioxidant that exists naturally in your body. Glutathione is your body’s front line defense against free radicals.

What are Free Radicals?

During a normal cell life, a cell can become radicalized during the process of changing calories into usable fuel for our bodies. As well, at times your immune system will radicalize cells to fight off infections. However, pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, herbicides and poor diet can cause healthy cells to become radicalized.

Radicalized cells then become little terrorists in your body. These radicalized cells are short an electron. Without the big science explanation, that basically means it needs to find one and fast. They terrorize your body by stealing electrons from healthy cells, which then become radicalized.

It gets better:

Antioxidants to the Rescue

One benefit of Milk Thistle is that it is a powerful antioxidant like Vitamin E and C. Antioxidants, like Milk Thistle, reign in the terror by giving these free radical cells the electron they need.  

Antioxidants are not like other cells, they do not need that electron, so they are not converted once their electron is given away. Normally your body handles this whole process without you noticing, however, if your level of antioxidants is low or if the damage caused is too great this leads to illness.

Detoxification

Another benefit of Milk Thistle is detoxification.

The liver is a filter for toxins such as pollution, heavy metals, poison, and chemicals.

Toxins in your body can cause cancer, increased cholesterol, diabetes, kidney stones, gall bladder disorders, and more. Milk Thistle is a  “toxin blocking agent” inhibiting toxins from binding to the liver cells.

Other Benefits of Milk Thistle

I have explained the role Milk Thistle can play as an antioxidant and detoxifier but there are so many other benefits, especially for your liver.

Prevention – Milk Thistle protects your liver cells from damage by changing the outside layer of the cells to make them more resistant to damage.

Liver disease – Milk Thistle aids in rebuilding damaged liver cells.

The fastest way through a hangover is to get your liver back to normal functioning. Milk Thistle helps your liver remove these chemicals from your blood.

Drugs – all chemicals are processed by your liver. That includes, prescription drugs, recreational drugs and alcohol.  When we consume too much our liver is put on overdrive. A hangover is basically your liver complaining because you worked it too hard. The fastest way through a hangover is to get your liver back to normal functioning. Milk Thistle helps your liver remove these chemicals from your blood. Next hangover, remember Milk Thistle.

Digestion – You might not normally associate your liver with digestion. However, your liver is responsible for enzyme formation and bile production which are big factors in digestion. Milk Thistle boosts your liver functions by increasing bile production, decreasing inflammation and calming irritated mucous membranes.

Can Milk Thistle Help with Other Health Issues?

milk thistle benefitsYes, there are several other health benefits attributed to taking Milk Thistle regularly.

  • Decreased risk of cancer – mostly due to its high antioxidant features and its ability to fight off free radicals.
  • Diabetes – milk Thistle has a positive effect on blood sugar levels through its benefits to the liver. The liver controls the release of certain hormones including insulin.
  • Cholesterol – Milk Thistle’s anti-inflammatory properties provide great support for your heart as heart disease is usually caused by inflammation. Also its ability to clean the blood, in the liver, of toxins and reduce free radical damage it has an effect on cholesterol levels.
  • Anti-Aging – mostly due to the antioxidant properties of Milk Thistle, it is able to reduce the amount of damage caused by free radicals. Aging is the accumulation of this damage.  As well, the removal of toxins, pollutants and waste from the blood slows the aging process.  There have even been some reports of reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Milk Thistle also helps reduce difficult menopausal symptoms, prevents gallstones, kidney stones and improves adrenal function.
  • Skin health – Milk Thistle can help your skin in so many ways. Some skin conditions are  caused by liver issues, such as psoriasis. As the liver heals you will see improvement.  As well, Milk Thistle contains phytochemicals, these chemicals defend your skin against UV light induced free radical damage. This damage can lead to skin cancer.  Milk Thistle’s detoxifying properties will improve your visible skin issues like dark spots, wrinkles and lines.

The benefits of Milk Thistle are far reaching!

Now:

How Much Is Enough?

Milk Thistle leaves and seeds are crushed and packaged into several forms –  pill, capsule, tea, tincture, powder or extract.

If you grow Milk Thistle, or know where you can get the plants, you can eat the seeds raw or make a tea from dried leaves and seeds.

Keep in mind that the active ingredient is Silymarin or Silybin. If your extract says it has 80% Silymarin than 100 mg capsule will only have 80 mg  of Silymarin.

I have included below some guidelines on dosage.

Detox 150 mg of Silymarin, 1-3X a day.  

Cholesterol –  200-600 mg Silymarin, 1-3X/day, for 4 months.

Antioxidant – 140 mg of Silymarin, 3X/day, for 3 weeks.

Osteoarthritis – 150 mg of Silymarin, 2X/day, for 8 weeks.

Diabetes – 420-480 mg of Silymarin, 2-3X/day

Liver Hepatitis  – 160-800 mg of Silymarin, 3X/day, for 3 weeks

Liver Damage – 160-800 mg of Silymarin 3X/day, for 15 days up to  5 weeks.

Cirrhosis of the Liver – 160-800 mg of Silymarin, 2-3X/day, up to 2 years.

Liver Disease – 160-480 mg of Silymarin, per day, for 3 months.

As always, use caution when starting a new supplement. Start at the lower end of the dosage recommended and increase slowly.

Is  it Safe?

Over 400 studies have been conducted using Milk Thistle and many have shown its therapeutic value. Although here in North America it is treated as an herbal supplement, in Europe, physicians prescribe Milk Thistle for poisoning, alcohol related liver disease, hepatitis, and more.

Some sources recommend only using Milk Thistle daily for up to 14 months other studies show it is safe up to 6 years at regular use.

Possible Side Effects

Milk Thistle has very few side effects and they are usually mild.  Most relate to digestion –  diarrhea, nausea, bloating, upset stomach. If you have an allergy to ragweed, you could develop a rash or allergic reaction to Milk Thistle. I found conflicting data for pregnant and breastfeeding moms so I would avoid it as a precaution.

Milk Thistle can mimic estrogen in a woman’s body so you should not take Milk Thistle if you have fibroid tumors, endometriosis, breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Always check with your physician and pharmacist as there are some medications that interact with Milk Thistle. Despite my long warnings, Milk Thistle is a very safe, easy to use supplement.

What Brand?

Research is paramount. Make sure your extract or capsule contains at least 80% active ingredients.

Milk Thistle 10x More Absorbable 20x More Effective Maximum Milk Thistle by Natural WellnessMilk Thistle is like most supplements. It is not regulated by the FDA so you will find a full range of products on the market.

Some are produced, harvested and prepared to create high quality, high potency supplements. Some are merely packaged and labeled and hold little benefit for your body.  

Research is paramount. Make sure your extract or capsule contains at least 80% active ingredients.  

Some good brands:

Tea – Alvita, Celebration Herbals

Capsules – Maximum Milk Thistle, UltraThistle

Conclusion

Milk Thistle is a very mild, easy to use and safe supplement that can have significant results for your health. It is especially helpful for your liver.

Milk Thistle acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, detoxifier, aid in digestion, purifier and cell regenerator. A healthy liver leads to healthy blood, healthy immune system and healthy digestive system.

Milk Thistle is a very healthy way to restore, rejuvenate and protect your liver.

Lastly, here is a video on how to harvest milk thistle seeds. Enjoy!

Product image sourced from Amazon.com.

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