Top 6 Milk Thistle Benefits
1. Liver Detoxification & Health
Milk thistle serves as a powerful liver cleanser, aiding liver support and detoxification. It rebuilds liver cells and eliminates toxins processed through the liver, effectively reversing the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides, heavy metals, and pollution.
Additionally, the liver, our largest internal organ, performs essential detoxifying functions, influencing the condition of blood throughout the body. Actively purifying the blood daily, the liver supports nearly every bodily system by removing harmful substances, aiding hormone production, and releasing glucose and bile into the bloodstream and small intestine, respectively.
Historical usage reveals milk thistle’s effectiveness against various liver diseases, including alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, and toxin-induced liver diseases.
Milk thistle seeds, rich in the antioxidant flavonoid silymarin, decrease cancer risk by enhancing the immune system, combating DNA damage, and halting cancerous tumor growth.
Research conducted at the University of Minnesota underscores silymarin’s hepatoprotective and anticarcinogenic effects, inhibiting cancer cell growth in human prostate, skin, breast, and cervical cells. Silybin, a prevalent silymarin molecule, stimulates protein synthesis, fortifying healthy cells against damage and mutation. Furthermore, silymarin serves as a cancer protector by obstructing toxins from binding to cell membrane receptors.
Milk thistle, recognized by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as a potent anti-inflammatory, promotes heart health by lowering high cholesterol levels through inflammation reduction, blood cleansing, and arterial oxidative stress prevention.
Preliminary studies suggest that milk thistle extract, when combined with conventional treatments, improves total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, particularly in individuals with diabetes. However, further research is warranted to confirm its efficacy in individuals without diabetes.
Compelling research from the National Institute of Health indicates that silymarin, the primary compound in milk thistle, aids in controlling diabetes symptoms by facilitating glycemic control alongside conventional treatments. Experimental and clinical studies demonstrate the antioxidant-rich milk thistle’s ability to lower blood sugar levels in insulin-resistant patients.
A study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology at the Institute of Medicinal Plants observed significant improvements in fasting blood glucose and insulin levels among diabetic patients treated with silymarin extract over four months, compared to those receiving a placebo.
5. Help Prevent Gallstones
As a major digestive organ, the liver collaborates with other digestive organs to improve liver health, thus potentially preventing gallstones and kidney stones. Milk thistle’s ability to enhance bile flow and aid in liver and gallbladder detoxification may contribute to gallstone prevention by preventing cholesterol and other substances from binding in the bile.
6. Has Anti-Aging Effects
Milk thistle’s antioxidants combat free radical damage and eliminate pollutants and waste from the body, potentially slowing the aging process. These protective qualities extend to the skin, suggesting milk thistle’s efficacy in reducing visible signs of aging, such as dark spots, wrinkles, and discoloration.
Animal studies support this notion, as silymarin protected mice skin from UV-induced oxidative stress and reduced leukocytes that promote inflammation. Thus, milk thistle consumption may serve as an easy method to prevent skin cancer and damage due to its antioxidant properties.