Milk Thistle Benefits for Liver Health and Detox

Milk thistle benefits for liver

What is Milk Thistle?

Since ancient times, people are using herbs and plant extracts as herbal remedies to get variety of health benefits. Milk thistle benefits for liver health are many. Milk thistle is a member of ragweed and daisy family of plants and is native to Mediterranean countries. Other common names for milk thistle are Holy thistle or Saint Mary’s thistle, Scotch thistle, and variegated thistle. Traditional Chinese Medicine also describes milk thistle with names of da ji while its seeds are called shui fei ji as herbal remedy of milk thistle for liver. Also, Latin name of milk thistle is Silybum marianum. Moreover, the recorded history tells that people of ancient Greece had used milk thistle for medicinal purpose like St. John’s wort. Similarly, people mostly concerned about milk thistle for hangover prevention. Currently, milk thistle is available widely in Europe and USA to relieve liver disease and is also sold as herbal supplement on medicine outlets [1,2]. 

Milk thistle has potential health benefits.
Source: Pixabay (Free for commercial use)

Milk Thistle Benefits

Now question arises that what is milk thistle used for? Or what is milk thistle good for? or what is milk thistle for liver?

As we know, milk thistle has a long history of usage as natural remedy for liver problems. However, liver issues are various, such as cirrhosis, jaundice, gall-bladder related disorders and hepatitis. Milk thistle benefits for human body are so many and primarily it is famous for these reasons [3].

  • Milk thistle has benefits for liver
  • Milk thistle has benefits for liver detox
  • Milk thistle has benefits in weight loss
  • Milk thistle has benefits to skin
  • It provides benefits in lowering serum cholesterol levels
  • Beneficial for diabetic people

Now questions arise naturally in mind that are milk thistle benefits factual? Or addressing following issues?

  • Does milk thistle work?
  • Does milk thistle help kidneys?
  • Does milk thistle help a fatty liver?
  • Does milk thistle detox the liver?
  • Does milk thistle lower blood sugar?
  • Does milk thistle make you poop? (Does milk thistle help to pass solid waste from the body?)
  • Does milk thistle help acne?
  • Does milk thistle tea is helpful? Are milk thistle herbal tea benefits real. Do milk thistle tea healthy options exist. Are milk thistle green tea benefits real? What are actual milk thistle leaf tea benefits?
  • Does milk thistle work immediately?

Now, lets go through all one by one for milk thistle benefits for liver health.

Does milk thistle work for liver? Or what is milk thistle for liver?

Here is milk thistle story for hepatitis B. Above all, milk thistle is popular for its main active ingredient named silymarin. Silymarin benefits are so many as found extensively in published literature. However, the exact silymarin benefits are still unclear in human body, but milk thistle silymarin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in milk thistle leaves and extract [4].

Also, some year back, the scientific data was not enough to endorse milk thistle benefits for liver health.  Some early studies suggested that milk thistle benefits obviously exist for people suffering alcoholic liver disease, alcoholic fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver. Moreover, milk thistle benefits for liver function improvement were obvious.

Does milk thistle get rid of toxins? In other words, some published reports suggest that milk thistle offers benefit to people who suffer from liver toxicity from industrial toxins like xylene and toluene. Several milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum) and silymarin extract supplements are available as fatty liver home remedies in form of herbal supplements including milk thistle tablets. After that, increasing evidence says that milk thistle benefits liver. Moreover, further detailed account is available on this prominent information source. Similarly, for liver repair and regeneration, turmeric root is also good option along with milk thistle.

Milk thistle benefits for liver health are provided by detoxification.
Milk thistle promotes liver detoxification. Use Milk thistle for liver detox.
Source: Pixabay (Free for commercial use, No attribution required)

Can milk thistle cure hepatitis B?

Since long, the search for alternative therapies to curb hepatitis with least adverse effects on patients has been going on. In such instance, a team of researchers led Dr. Andrea Rambaldi, visiting researcher at the of the Centre for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University Hospital, investigated the effects of milk thistle or its extracts in 13 randomized clinical trials involving 915 patients administrated with milk thistle extracts. Participants had liver fibrosis, hepatitis and/or steatosis, viral-induced liver disease (hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C) and acute or chronic alcoholic liver cirrhosis. The results were published in systematic review of recent issue of The Cochrane Library. Dr. Rambaldi and colleagues concluded that milk thistle is potentially beneficial for liver and may exert effect on alcoholic fatty liver and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases Moreover, the exact mechanism of silymarin is still unknown. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of National Institute of Health suggests that milk thistle silymarin benefits the liver health owing to its hepatoprotective mechanism by promoting liver cells growth, acting as an antioxidant and inhibiting inflammation [5].

Does milk thistle help cirrhosis of the liver?

According to MedicalNewsToday and WebMD, literature offers mixed results about milk thistle benefits for liver cirrhosis.  Milk thistle prevents cirrhosis by decreasing onset of alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Milk thistle or silymarin supplements may reduce liver damage by decreasing inflammation. Silymarin as bioactive compound of milk thistle reduces anti-fibrotic activity and hepatic collagen accumulation. In USA, herbal supplement use of silymarin or milk thistle is very common for liver health issues. In addition, Advances in Therapy Journal has summed all in this study.

Does milk thistle help fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver issue is prevalent in about 25% people worldwide. Too much alcohol consumption may cause this or it may occur because of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is linked to other disorders such as obesity, type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Milk thistle or silymarin has liver-protective effects and several studies have concluded that a 250–376 mg per day dosage of milk thistle may help reduce fatty liver complications in people suffering from NAFLD by decreasing inflammation, insulin resistance, and liver damage [6,7,8]. Moreover, a good read is available here on Healthline as well.

Milk thistle for fatty liver

Although, milk thistle showed promising results in NAFLD patients in synergy with vitamin E or turmeric, however, further research is needed to establish effectiveness and dosages of silymarin for long-terms usage. Researchers believe that milk thistle may help reduce liver damage induced by diet, however, milk thistle silymarin is already known as potent antioxidant which scavenge free radicals and decreases their production. This imparts detoxification effect to human body and that’s the reason milk thistle benefits for improved liver health. The past, present and future is well described by researchers in an interesting study available here.

Milk thistle dosage for fatty liver

Milk thistle extract, milk thistle tablets or milk thistle capsules preparation involves use of above ground parts and milk thistle seeds. Dose of 200 mg of milk thistle extract has been reported for period of for 4 months to one year. The scientific evidence is still insufficient and mixed reviews are available, so further research is needed in this regard. Consult your physician prior to taking these herbal supplements [1-3]. Milk thistle is likely safe to use as an extract, but always seek the guidance of your physician. Mayo Clinic has an interesting read on this in their post which is worthwhile to go thru for further details about milk thistle dosage and milk thistle side effects.

Does milk thistle affect diabetes in people with fatty liver?

Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are common issues in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Co-existence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and NAFLD is common. It has been regarded as a manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. It is interesting to ask that can milk thistle cure diabetes/Can milk thistle help people with diabetes? The answer to this question is Yes. Milk thistle extracts are effective for diabetics. Furthermore, milk thistle extracts showed decreasing tendency of serum glucose levels and cholesterol-lowering effect in type 2 diabetic people [9]. Milk thistle also led to improvement in insulin resistance and milk thistle can help people to manage diabetes. Milk thistle tea for diabetes is also recommended. A good read about milk thistle extract and diabetes is available on The Review of Diabetic Studies Journal of Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research.

Milk Thistle Tea

In addition, Milk thistle extract benefits can be achieved by using milk thistle to cleanse liver. Then question arises that how to use milk thistle to detox liver? Milk thistle is available in form of supplements, tea and herbal extracts. Milk thistle tea is one of popular herbal teas. Milk thistle can be prepared by infusions of milk thistle leaves or seeds in hot water. Milk thistle tea is caffeine free so there is no problem of disruption of sleep patterns. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still did not approve milk thistle tea as a herbal treatment of liver problems. Until attainment of further research evidence, use milk thistle tea as a complementary treatment instead. It may also boost immune system to detox our body by releasing toxins out of body.

Milk thistle benefits for liver health can be achieved by milk thistle tea.
Milk thistle tea is one of popular herbal teas. Milk thistle tea benefits liver health.
Source: Pixabay (Free for commercial use, No attribution required)
  • Prepare infusion of milk thistle by adding milk thistle seeds, leaves, or tea bag.
  • Allow to steep milk thistle tea for 20 minutes.
  • Strain and add flavorings like milk or honey. Enjoy milk thistle tea!

Conclusion

In conclusion, milk thistle benefits for liver health are numerous because of its active ingredient, silymarin, which is powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactive compound. Until attainment of further research evidence, use milk thistle tea as a complementary treatment instead. It may also boost immune system to detox our body by releasing toxins out of body, help protect liver and reduce inflammation.

Milk thistle benefits obviously exist for people suffering alcoholic liver disease, alcoholic fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver. Moreover, milk thistle benefits for liver function improvement were obvious to treat cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis and Gallbladder disorders. Above all, milk thistle benefits for liver health can be harnessed by utilizing it as a healthful herbal supplement along with conventional remedies. Still, there isn’t evidence suggesting that it’s harmful to your health. Therefore, always seek the help of healthcare professional prior to starting use of milk thistle herbal supplement. Hence, use milk thistle tea or milk thistle extract, milk thistle tablets, liver syrups in form of herbal remedies or milk thistle supplements are commonly found on herbal medicine stores.

Disclaimer

This website provides information about natural foods and their potential health benefits to improve overall human wellness. The content provided in this platform or linked to this blog could not be considered as an alternative to advice of professional medical practitioners. You should consult your health care provider in case of disease incidences and severe emergencies.

References

[1] Rambaldi, A., Jacobs, B. P., Iaquinto, G., & Gluud, C. (2005). Milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).

[2] Conclusions About Milk Thistle (2006). The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment. https://www.hepatitiscentral.com/news/conclusions_abo/

 [3] Does Milk Thistle Help Your Liver? https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/milk-thistle-liver#1

[4] 10 potential health benefits of milk thistle – Medical News Today (2017).  https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-milk-thistle-88325

[5] Milk thistle-Cancer Research UK. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/milk-thistle-and-liver-cancer

[6] Milk Thistle- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institute of Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/milk-thistle

[7] Abenavoli, L., Aviello, G., Capasso, R., Milic, N., & Capasso, F. (2011). Milk thistle for treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Hepatitis Monthly, 11, 3(32); 173-177.

[8] Romano, A., Curcio, A., Di Nicola, A., Grassi, O., & Schiaroli, D. (2019). The association of silymarin, vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenomethionine for the treatment of non alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System, 9(589), 1-5.

[9] Abenavoli, L., & Bellentani, S. (2013). Milk thistle to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: dream or reality? Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 7(8), 677–679

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8 Comments

    1. Greetings!
      Indeed, Milk thistle is a miracle plant with several health benefits. Glad to know you found this blog post useful.
      I am lucky really to have positive feedback and appreciable comments from internet reader like you. I am really thankful to you for your kind words and appreciation. Your words really made my day and gives me spark to continue my work. Readers like you sir are really an asset for writer like me.

      Once again many many thanks. Keep visiting for great content and useful information.
      Stay safe. Have good day ahead. Good Bye.

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