Milk Thistle is one of the most efficient natural treatments for liver problems. Today we find out the history, benefits and side effects of this plant. As well as revealing some of the best milk thistle supplement available in the market.
What does milk thistle do for your liver?
I have had a history of liver problems run in the family. For many years was a deadening issue we had to face daily. After some unsuccessful treatments, my parents and I decided to do our own research and find a natural herb that could help.
In 2014, after my dad started showing severe symptoms of cirrhosis, we started spending a lot of time doing research and talking to doctors and specialists about natural treatments, that’s when we found Milk Thistle.
Me and my dad have been using it for 3 years now and it has drastically improved our life. We believe everyone should be aware of its existence. It is not only a viable option but rather a must-do. That’s why today I’m looking deeper into this subject and sharing everything we know about it. Hopefully I’ll help others the same way specialists did with me.
But… what is Milk Thistle (‘Silybum marianum’) actually?
Glad you ask. Also known locally as ‘Mary thistle’ and ‘Holy Thistle’. Milk Thistle is an Europe native plant. Although originally grew in Mediterranean countries, the plant can be now found throughout the globe, mainly in North America, Australia, Germany and China. In America is commonly grown in California and South America. In the United States, despite its medicinal properties, it’s regarded as an invasive plant.
When I first heard about the properties of Milk Thistle (source), I was very happy to find out it’s extremely easy to find. This was great news for me, my parents and even my husband, since the 4 of us were on a quest to find the best natural solution possible.
Fun Fact: Milk Thistle has been used for over 2,000 years.
Great, sounds promising, but what are the BENEFITS of milk thistle?
That’s the main question. One my husband and I found very intriguing. I recall him shouting “why are we only hearing about this now?!”. I shared the same thought. After consulting with many doctors and specialists. Watching hours of documentaries and reading we found out Milk Thistle was not only beneficial for people suffering from liver problems but also an all other range of issues.
Milk Thistle draws toxins out of the body. It has been used as an herbal antioxidant for a wide range of problems such as cancer, cirrhosis, gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney stones, mushroom poisoning, among others.
Milk Thistle for Liver Detoxification
This herbal remedy has its main use on liver problems treatment. This includes liver damage caused by alcohol, chemicals, mushroom poisoning, jaundice, chronic inflammatory, and even chemotherapy. It’s a common treatment especially in cases of alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. Milk Thistle significantly improves liver function (source) and may even increase survival odds in chronic cirrhosis and hepatitis.
Another case that has been proven most effective is fatty liver disease. I have a great example in my family, my uncle (from my father side), has a high rate of fat in his liver, about 5% more than ‘normal’ people. Since he started taking milk thistle supplement, the fat percentage has decreased almost 4%. This is because the herb decreases liver enzymes.
He, as well as me and my dad, also suffer from severe liver inflammation, but the supplements have increased liver cell regeneration (source) to a state of ‘disease reversal’, according to my family doctor.
My own experience has showed me milk thistle supplements perform far better than any prescription drug to date.
Milk Thistle have a high source of silymarin (source ), an antioxidant flavonoid that boosts the immune system, fights DNA damage, and reverses cancerous tumor growth. Therefore, it is recommended for people with a cancer history running in the family to take milk thistle in order to decrease risk of cancer.
The medicinal herb acts as a toxin blockade agent, stimulating protein synthesis and changing the layer of healthy cells in order to keep them shielded from damage and mutation. Studies show silymarin and other components of milk thistle: stop cancer cells from multiplying, reduce the lifespan of those cells and reduce the growth of tumors (source).
Lowering High Cholesterol
This is also another common problem in my family, mainly on the elders, they all have high cholesterol. I was very surprised to find out milk thistle could also be beneficial to them. Taking supplements will stop inflammation, clean the blood, and prevent oxidative stress damage in the arteries. Therefore, milk thistle is a great supplement for any high cholesterol diet.
What are Milk Thistle Supplement and How do I Take Them?
Milk Thistle is in the natural supplements category, it’s not considered a drug. These supplements have a high concentration of silymarin and other powerful substances.
The recommended dosage is anything from 20 to 300 milligrams every day, depending largely on what problem you are trying to fight. Because it’s a natural supplement you don’t have to worry to take the wrong dosage and suffer horrible side effects. Milk thistle is a very clean and healthy supplement. However, do not take more than 300 milligrams (Source) , you won’t need more than that daily, no matter the issue .
There are four different forms of this supplement available in the market, namely:
When taking this natural medicine, you should divide your daily dosage in three. Take one in the morning, second during the day and the last one at night. You should consult a doctor before as he will tell you what’s the best dosage for you.
Most people take it orally (mouth), this is mainly for patients suffering from: liver disorders, diabetes, kidney damage, cancer, inflammation, jaundice and even hangover. However, it can also be applied to the skin in cases of skin toxicity (such as radiation) and taken intravenously in cases of mushroom poisoning.
What about the side effects of milk thistle?
No matter what we take, drug or natural supplement, we should always take the side effects into consideration. Fortunately, as in most cases with natural supplements, milk thistle is very safe and harmless. There is no record of a severe side effect ever happening, most side effects are gastrointestinal and not very common:
Important Note : Milk thistle should not be taken by: pregnant woman (or breastfeeding) and people allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies.
What are the Best Milk Thistle Supplement Brands To Buy in 2017?
I have used many of these supplements until I found the best for me and my family. Honestly, we tried about every supplement there is in the market for 3 years. It’s safe to say we know which ones’ work and which don’t. First, it is important to know what are the requirements for a great milk thistle supplement:
- High concentration of silymarin.
- Non-GMO! (not genetically modified)
- Free of such things as wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soybeans, gluten, and tree nuts.
- Powerful antioxidants.
So… what are the best?
Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle is one of the most affordable highly concentrated top milk thistle. On top of the amazing price it’s also one of the most effective due to the high-concentration (80%) of silymarin. It boosts liver cell growth, repairing the liver and treating and preventing cirrhosis and other liver diseases.
It is the most antioxidant supplement currently available in the market and will help your body expel even the toughest toxins. It is also used in many cases for empowering the immune system, anti-aging process and overall health. A great supplement to any diet and lifestyle.
•150 mg milk thistle seed 30:1 extract
This is one of the most common supplements people try first, it is also one of the most recommended. It’s not the strongest of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidants out there. Mainly because it’s not suitable for severe cases of illness.
It’s great for the average person looking for a milk thistle supplement that is great for liver function and detoxification, helps metabolic function, is a decent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and has very low risk of side effects. This is the product practically everyone from my family is taking at the moment.
•300 mg milk thistle extract (80% silymarin)
•Fortified with Dandelion Root and Artichoke
If you are looking for a high source of antioxidants this is the product best fit for your needs. Solgar is a mixture of herbal technology and the traditional herbal medicine. It contains milk thistle seed extract and milk thistle powder. It has extra antioxidants (more than others on this list) such as natural beta-carotene and L-ascorbic acid.
On top of all this, it contains no gluten, wheat, soy, and dairy. It is also suitable for vegetarians. This is the product we took for about one year and half. It was the one specialists advised me and my father because our liver contained a high rate of fat.
•175 mg milk thistle extract (80% silymarin)
•300 mg milk thistle powder
•PhytO2X antioxidant blend (natural beta-carotene, L-ascorbic acid)
I’m adding this one to the list because it did wonders for my husband. He is 100% vegan so we had to find a suitable solution. Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle is vegetarian and dairy and gluten free. My husband liver does not absorb well, so the doctor advised the liquid form of Gaia Herbs.
It is easily absorbable, laboratory tested for purity and also has a high concentration of antioxidants like Solgar. 100% organic grow and produced on Gaia own farm. Even if you are not vegetarian, this product is great for healthy liver function and detoxification. Highly recommended.
•450 mg milk thistle seed extract (80% silymarin)
This is one was extremely useful to my dad. He needed a highly potent extract with a fortified liver support complex of turmeric, dandelion root and artichoke. Solaray milk thistle extract provides just that. It is regarded has one of the most overall effective supplements.
It’s rich in antioxidants, fortified with many substances for liver recovering and neutralizes free radicals. It is produced by one of the oldest brands in business, known for their guaranteed potency and efficiency. It’s not one of the cheapest products in the market, but it’s also one of the most widely available due to its effectiveness. The formula also contains anti-aging benefits (something my dad found especially interesting given his age!).
•175mg milk thistle extract (standardized for 80% silymarin)
•Liver support base (turmeric root extract, dandelion root, artichoke leaf)
What about you?
Let us know your story, are you looking for a good supplement to fight a particular issue or to balance with a healthy diet? Do you also take one of the supplements we mentioned? Tell us what’s your own experience with it. Is there a supplement you think should be on our list? Leave a comment telling us why! We are always happy to read your opinion. Have a great day and stay healthy!