Ask a half-dozen people their favorite health attribute linked to milk thistle, and you will likely hear six different answers. That points to the versatility of this flowering plant (reddish-purplish flowers) found mostly in Mediterranean countries and which belongs to the same plant family as the daisy. Scientifically known as silybmum marianum, milk thistle actually goes by an assortment of names that also include Mary thistle, holy thistle, and Scotch thistle. Milk thistle gets its potentially potent health properties from an assortment of components extracted from its seeds, to include a robust concentration of silymarin, the most active of milk thistle's components, per organicfacts.net. The herb remedy also contains an array of fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, also known as vitamin F and especially helpful for its capacity to heal, hydrate, and plump skin, per dermascope.com.
Milk Thistle's Uses and BenefitsBefore you go out and buy a shopping cart loaded down with milk thistle, thinking it will automatically provide you a longer and healthier life, be sure to discuss its usage with your personal physician. Be confident about its use and benefits, but it pays to be careful as well. Here is a breakdown of some of its many benefits, beginning with how it can work especially well with your liver:
- Enhances liver health. When it comes to detoxifying agents, milk thistle is among the best, thanks to its inclusion of silymarin. Per organicfacts.net, it can help scrub the lymphatic system clean while also fending off toxic metal substances. Furthermore, it can quicken the healing process of the liver from damage caused by too much drinking, perhaps even cirrhosis.
- Help Prevent Loss of Cognitive Function. As an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, milk thistle can act as a protective agent for brain function, with various studies showing how silymarin can help thwart oxidative damage to brain cells, per healthline.com. It can also scale down the quantity of amyloid plaques in the brains of animals beset with Alzheimer's disease.
- Reduce cholesterol. Always a good thing to hear for tens of millions of Americans who struggle with high cholesterol. A 2006 study cited at medicalnewstoday.com found that cholesterol levels were lower in diabetic volunteers being treated with milk thistle vs. a placebo. Lowered levels of cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart-related issues such as stroke.
- Support weight loss. Animal research in 2016 found a link between silymarin and weight loss for mice fed a diet aimed at gaining weight.
- Alleviate allergic asthma symptoms. This is where silymarin's anti-inflammatory property comes into play, working to reduce inflammation in the airway, as successfully tested on mice in a 2012 study, per medicalnewstoday.com.
- Bolster the immune system. At least one study has suggested that milk thistle extract provides a boost for immune response in humans, a benefit that helps fight off infection.
- Promote heart health. Chalk this up to milk thistle's abundance of helpful fatty acids and omega-3's.
- Support bone health. It can contribute to the prevention of bone loss resulting from an estrogen deficiency while also reducing the risk of osteoporosis, per organicfacts.net.
- Treat psoriasis. Need help in reducing or even eliminating the redness, itching, and patchy skin associated with psoriasis.
- Boost breast milk production. It is thought this can occur because of milk thistle's apparent ability to stimulate increased production of prolactin, the milk-producing hormone. Per healthline.com, one study suggested that lactating moms taking 420 milligrams of silymarin for nine weeks produced 64 percent more milk than those taking placebos.