Milk thistle also referred to as Mary thistle or holy thistle, is utilized as a natural remedy for treating a range of health conditions.
It is primarily used to treat liver issues, but a few people assert that it can lessen cholesterol and help manage type 2 diabetes. The functional ingredient in milk thistle is referred to as silymarin.
In this article, we will review the ten potential milk thistle advantages and look at whether there is any scientific proof to support its use. Also, we will look at how to use milk thistle, and if there are any risks to be aware of.
What is milk thistle?
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that originates from a similar family of plants as the daisy.
It can be found in Mediterranean countries and is used for producing natural medicines. Numerous parts of the milk thistle plant can be used to care for various health illnesses.
It is commonly used for liver problems, and some people claim it can help treat:
Other likely health benefits include protecting heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and aiding people in managing type 2 diabetes.
Health benefits of milk thistle
The health benefits of milk thistle include the following:
- Boosts liver health
Amongst the most common uses of milk thistle is to treat liver issues. A research in 2016, discovered that milk thistle diet reduces liver damage in mice.
Additional evidence is required to verify that milk thistle support human livers in the same way. Nonetheless, researchers claim that it does.
The active ingredient present in milk thistle, silymarin, functions as an antioxidant, which lessens free radical production. Scientists believe that this produces a detoxifying effect, which is the reason that milk thistle might be beneficial for liver problems.
Until more studies are completed, milk thistle is not approved as the basic treatment option for liver problems. However, it may be an effective complementary treatment to try.
- Improves skin health
Milk thistle may assist in promoting healthy skin. A review in 2015, revealed that milk thistle helped improve inflammatory skin diseases when applied to the skin of mice.
Following another study, milk thistle was discovered to have antioxidant and anti-ageing effects on the human skin cells in a laboratory. Additional research on humans is required to know what benefits an individual can get from applying milk thistle to their skin.
- Reduces cholesterol
High cholesterol can result in issues with heart health and increase the risk of stroke. A study in 2006 indicates that milk thistle may play a significant role in maintaining a low cholesterol level. It discovered that cholesterol levels were lower in people using milk thistle to deal with diabetes than those using a placebo.
- Assist with weight loss
Preliminary animal research performed in 2016 revealed that silymarin prompted weight loss in mice that were provided with a diet intended to induce weight gain.
This indicates that milk thistle might be useful for those that wish to lose weight. However, more study into the effects of milk thistle on weight loss in humans is required to verify this.
- Decreases insulin resistance
Research on mice discovered that milk thistle extract assisted in reducing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Although this study indicates that milk thistle could play a part in diabetes management, additional analysis is required to substantiate whether milk thistle reduces insulin resistance and benefits diabetes management.
- Improves allergic asthma symptoms
The functional ingredient in milk thistle can assist in reducing inflammation. A 2012 review showed that silymarin assisted in protecting against inflammation in the airways of mice with allergic asthma. However, additional study is needed to clarify if silymarin helps asthma symptoms in humans.
- Restricts the spread of cancer
Milk thistle may help reduce the spread of specific types of cancer. A 2016 study disclosed that milk thistle extract restricted the progress of cancerous cells in colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, more analysis is required to know how milk thistle may be used to help battle cancer.
- Benefits bone health
Milk thistle might play a crucial part in benefiting bone health. A 2013 review revealed that milk thistle assisted in preventing bone loss.
The research looked precisely at bone loss induced by a deficiency in estrogen. However, it isn’t clear whether milk thistle is equally effective for bone loss with a different cause. Additional researches are required before it is safe to conclude that milk thistle benefits bone health in humans.
- Improves cognition
A review in 2015, demonstrated that milk thistle strengthened the resistance to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a potential factor in Alzheimer’s disease. Milk thistle may assist in improving cognition and care for degenerative conditions that affect the mind. Further study on humans is needed to verify the impacts of milk thistle on cognition.
- Improves the immune system
Milk thistle may help enhance a person’s immune reaction and assist them in fighting off infection. A survey in 2016, on an animal model, showed that milk thistle extract enhanced immunity when consumed.
Older research indicated that milk thistle extract had an encouraging effect on immune response in humans. Nevertheless, further studies with human participants are needed before scientists can say with confidence that milk thistle improves a person’s immune system.
How to make use of milk thistle
Milk thistle supplement can be gotten from several health food shops. There is no standard amount of milk thistle, so it is best that you read the dosage indicated on the packaging.
Milk thistle can also be consumed as a tea, and if you want to drink milk thistle tea, it is best to restrict your intake to 6 glasses a day.
Risks and considerations
The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate milk thistle in the same manner as they regulate drugs. Due to this, it is better to purchase milk thistle from reliable retailers.
Milk thistle might interact with some medicines. This is a problem if an individual is already receiving treatment for liver conditions, so discuss with your doctor before using milk thistle.
Milk thistle has a span of possible health usefulness because of its effective ingredient, silymarin, which is an antioxidant. Further study is required to be done before the definitive list of milk thistle advantages can be verified.
Nevertheless, it is a healthy supplement that might be worth trying along with traditional treatments. It is an excellent idea to discuss with a healthcare professional before using milk thistle or any other supplement because it might interact with other medicines or conditions.