Milk thistle is a plant native to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. The leaves have white marks on them, which is how the plant got its name. It was found to have a flavonoid in the seeds called silymarin, which has a regenerative effect on liver tissue.
Milk thistle & detoxification
According to studies, milk thistle may protect the cells of the liver by blocking the entrance of harmful toxins and helping remove these toxins from liver cells. Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant, which works to maintain health and energy by protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals, which can injure healthy cells and tissues.
Milk thistle contains a mixture of several related compounds called silymarin. Silymarin promotes detoxification by several different mechanisms. The antioxidant capacity of silymarin can lower the liver oxidative stress associated with toxin metabolism and has the effect of conserving glutathione levels. Glutathione is an extremely important as an essential antioxidant, detoxifier, and immune system booster.
Milk thistle benefits:
1. Cell Protection: Directly aids liver cells by binding to the outside of cells and blocking the entrance of certain toxins. In addition, toxins that are already in liver cells are neutralized by silymarin. These actions also help protect against dangerous chemicals, such as carbon tetrachloride, alcohol, acetaminophen, and some commonly prescribed medications.
2. Boosts Antioxidant Activity: It is particularly useful for increasing production of glutathione—a powerful antioxidant produced by the body, as well as increasing the levels of other antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase.
3.. Cell Regeneration: Alcohol abuse, chronic hepatitis, and even commonly prescribed drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering medications and antidepressants, can injure liver cells. Silymarin has the unique ability to help regenerate damaged liver cells.
4. Anti-fibrotic Actions: Fibrosis is a process that occurs in the liver cells due to inflammation. The most common contributors to this process are alcohol abuse and chronic viral hepatitis (both B and C). By acting as a blocker, silymarin not only helps maintain liver health, but slows the progression of irreversible liver damage, also known as cirrhosis.
**Milk thistle is generally regarded as safe. Side effects are usually mild and may involve stomach upset and diarrhea. Do not take milk thistle if you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies.