26 Jan Milk Thistle benefits
Milk Thistle has long been trusted as a traditional healing herb. The medieval herbalist and Geman saint Hildegard von Bingen sang its praises, and the famous eighteenth-century herbalist Culpepper noted Milk Thistle benefits including fighting agues and plague infection, and for removing obstructions of the liver and spleen.
Today, herbalists often prescribe Milk Thistle as an antioxidant and liver detoxification agent, and it is a popular remedy for hangovers.
What is in Milk Thistle?
The medicinal compound in Milk Thistle is silymarin, which is extracted from the plant’s seeds. Scientific studies have suggested that other substances in it, notably the flavonoid silymarin, can protect the liver from toxins, including some drugs which cause liver damage in high doses.
Human trials have largely focused on how Milk Thistle can help people with liver disease and, whilst more research is needed, there have been a number of positive findings, with side effects being minor and rare.
Overall, the evidence suggests that it has anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect the liver from toxins.
So what are the benefits of Milk Thistle based on traditional use and how could it help your health and well-being?
Easing the effects of over-indulgence
From stag weekends to birthdays, there it’s very easy to find yourself in a situation where you over-indulge in alcohol. We’ve all felt that guilty ‘morning after’ feeling – usually accompanied by a thumping headache, dehydration and an upset stomach.
BBC Good Food offers sensible tips on how to cure a hangover or even prevent one by eating nourishing foods such as an egg on wholemeal toast to get your blood sugar levels back to normal.
You can also help your body to eliminate toxins more quickly by taking a brisk walk.
Help for symptoms of indigestion
Today’s busy lifestyles mean that we often end up eating on the go, resulting in a case of indigestion and bloating. All this can combine to make your digestive system – and you – feel uncomfortable and out of sorts.
The detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties of Milk Thistle extract make it a very popular choice for easing symptoms associated with indigestion and upset stomach, based on traditional use.
Milk Thistle and cancer
Milk Thistle is not a treatment for cancer, but according to Cancer Research UK, “Research in the laboratory has shown that Milk Thistle might help to treat some liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.”
They also say that a few trials have looked at Milk Thistle for people with cancer of the liver, breast cancer and leukaemia.
Anyone who is considering taking Milk Thistle after a diagnosis of cancer or who is receiving treatment should check with their doctor or cancer specialist before starting to take it.
Always choose a licensed herbal medicine that carries the Traditional Herbal Registration mark, which is your assurance of quality and safety.