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Milk Thistle

What is milk thistle?

Milk thistle, is a plant native to the Mediterranean areas of Europe, as well as North and South America and Australia. Belonging to the same family as daisies, the ripe seeds, which are actually the fruit of the plant, have being used for more than 2,000 years to make herbal remedies.

Milk thistle gets its name from the milky sap that comes out of the leaves when they are broken. Milk thistle contains silymarin, an antioxidant that is thought to be the primary active ingredient in milk thistle. Silymarin is a phytochemical classified as a flavonoid and is comprised of three different compounds; silybinin, silidyanin and silychristin, which are believed to be responsible for milk thistle’s abundance of health benefits.

What can Milk Thistle be used for?

Milk thistle it well known for a number of properties, often associated with liver health, however it is also used to treat many different human ailments, typically these include:

  • Liver health – Milk thistle is traditionally used to protect the liver and treat liver disease and disorders including jaundice and liver damage caused by chemicals, such as alcholol. Silymarin helps by providing new cells, whilst replacing damaged cells, the antioxidants can also help the liver recover from injury. 
  • Gallstones and Gallbladder – it has been suggested by some that components of milk thistle, especially silymarin, protect against gallbladder stone formation. It can also help to increase bile solubility, which promotes its circulation, reducing cholesterol gallstone disease.
  • Detoxifying the body - this is owing to milk thistle’s detoxifying properties, in addition to this, it is also helpful in helping the body get rid of unwanted toxins after a phase of over indulgence through either eating or drinking, or both. 
  • Cancer - the powerful antioxidant properties of silymarin may help with certain cancers, such as breast, prostate, cervical and liver cancer, however more studies are required
  • Reducing high cholesterol – milk thistle may help increase the good cholesterol levels in your body, often referred to as HDL, whilst lowering bad cholesterol LDL helping to regulate and control your cholesterol levels 
  • Skin conditions – some studies suggest milk thistle may help with certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis. Milk thistle is also believed to help reduce inflammation and slow down excessive cell growth. Some research suggests that taking milk thistle can help control psoriasis.
  • Obesity – Silymarin helps to increase the liver’s ability to function and as a result of this fat is metabolised much quicker. This means that it’s much easier for us to lose weight.
  • Other conditions

Milk thistle is most commonly available in tablet, capsule, powder and liquid extract, powdered milk thistle can be made into tea. For a range of milk thistle products and supplements, be sure to browse The Health Bay.

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Milk Thistle

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