Milk thistle also called Marian thistle, Scotch thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, and some others depending on each area, is known as a kind of herbs originated from the Mediterranean though it is now spread on over the world. This plant has been widely known and highly appreciated because of various powerful organic components presented in its seeds from which milk thistle extract is also derived with high concentrations of silymarin and fatty acids. Besides, its roots are usually eaten raw or boiled while its leaves are occasionally used alternatively to spinach.
All of the culinary uses of milk thistle are likely not as popular as the application of its extract that creates various benefits of milk thistle for preventing and treating some health diseases. In common, this herb has been used to detoxify the liver, prevent and treat some certain symptoms of cancer, lower the risks of heart diseases, relieve symptoms of diabetes, speed organ repair, cure hangovers, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and protect against some side effects of pharmaceuticals.
It is time now for VKool to show you 14 health benefits of milk thistle extract for the human body. All of the mentioned benefits which are found and studied from reliable sources show that this herb has been widely used and you can absolutely believe in it. For those who don’t know or wonder how beneficial milk thistle is, just spend a few minutes reading the article to have more information!
14 Health Benefits Of Milk Thistle Extract For The Human Body
1. Detoxify The Liver
Detoxifying the liver is known as the most important one among the benefits of milk thistle for the health. To be clear, it helps rebuild the liver cells and remove toxins out of the body thereby supporting and improving the functions of the liver and the whole body as well. The liver, as you know, is actually the largest internal organ in the body also responsible for performing essential detoxifying functions or in other words, the condition of transferring blood throughout the body almost depends on the liver health. It is the reason why the liver, a blood purifier, needs nourishing and supporting everyday aid the functions of the body at all.
In addition, the liver plays an important role in removing harmful substances out of the blood, aiding the production of hormones, releasing glucose from the bloodstream thereby giving the body necessary energy and releasing the bile in the small intestine with fat. In fact, you can easily see how bad your health condition is if your liver functions poorly liver. And because the benefits of milk thistle include supporting the liver, you should consume it regularly so that it helps treat various liver diseases like fatty liver syndrome, jaundice, hepatitis, damages from alcoholism, psoriasis, and some others.
One of the important benefits of milk thistle for the liver is improving its functions in those who suffer from the alcohol-related diseases. In other words, it helps revoke the harmful effects after consuming alcohol, pesticides in the blood stream, heavy metals in water supply, pollution in the air, and even poisons. According to the studies before, milk thistle has been proved to be effective for almost of people with the alcohol problem in improving the function of the liver and less beneficial for those with a more severe liver disease like cirrhosis, known as the last stage of liver disease characterized by permanent, scarring, and non-reversible liver damage.
2. Lower High Cholesterol
Another of the health benefits of milk thistle is lowering high cholesterol and improving the heart health. According to the research before, milk thistle has been indicated to be powerful anti-inflammatory, which makes it possible to stop inflammation, known as the main cause of heart disease. To be clear, it helps lower inflammation, clean the blood, and prevent oxidative stress on the arteries so that lowering high cholesterol and maintaining the heart health.
Although there needs more formal research on the benefits of milk thistle on the heart health, the preliminary studies indicated that the consumption of silymarin milk thistle extract along with other traditional treatments helps lower the total cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein known as the bad cholesterol, and triglycerides more effectively indeed. And because the high cholesterol levels directly involve in people with diabetes, it is necessary to have more studies on this aspect later.
3. Prevent And Control Diabetes
As mentioned above, controlling diabetes is also considered as one of the benefits of milk thistle for the health. In fact, the main chemical, silymarin, found in this herb helps control glycemic when combined with conventional treatments for controlling symptoms of diabetes. In addition, the presence of valuable antioxidants in milk thistle is also believed to decrease blood sugar levels in people with insulin resistance, which has been proved by experimental and clinical studies before.
Furthermore, another study conducted in 2009 showed more clearly about the benefits of milk thistle on diabetes that when diabetic patients consumed silymarin extract for 4 weeks, their insulin and fasting blood glucose levels considerably improved in comparison to those who just received a placebo. In fact, the liver plays a considerable role in regulating hormones including the insulin release into the bloodstream while insulin plays a role in managing blood glucose levels in the blood, therefore, this is important for patients with diabetes. In brief, when milk thistle can regulate the insulin and glucose levels in the blood, it is really beneficial in preventing and controlling diabetes.
4. Protect Against Cancer
Not only preventing and controlling the human heart health and diabetes but protecting from cancer is also one of the benefits of milk thistle. This is due to a high presence of antioxidant flavonoid called silymarin found in the seeds of milk thistle, which involves in the decrease in the risks of cancer by stimulating the immune system, fighting against DNA damage, and revoking the growth of a cancerous tumor. A study conducted in 2007 showed a potent preclinical evidence for the hepatoprotective and anticarcinogenic effects of silymarin including prevention of cancer cell development in human skin, breast, prostate, and cervical cells.
In addition, it is estimated that about 50 to 70% of the silymarin molecules found in milk thistle belong to a type called silybin, an antioxidant stimulating the synthesis of protein and changing the layer of healthy cells, and protecting them from damage and mutation. This antioxidant also prevents toxins from obtaining in the body, renews cells, and fights the negative effects of chemicals, heavy metals, and pollutants causing free radical damage, the main cause of various types of cancer. In other words, silymarin is a toxin blockade agent beneficial in preventing binding of toxins to the membrane receptors of cells also a cancer protector.
5. Repair cells
Besides protecting the body against the risks of cancer, repairing cells and encouraging the cell growth is also another of the benefits of milk thistle. It also depends on silymarin, an active ingredient and liver-protecting compound presented in this herb. This substance that is made up of a number of compounds called flavonolignans can stimulate protein synthesis thereby helping repair damaged cells of the liver as the result of alcohol and other toxins. To be clear, it changes the outside layer of those cells since then preventing the intrusion of certain toxins. In addition, silymarin substance also encourages the growth of liver cells, reduces inflammation particularly in those with hepatitis and liver inflammation besides its potent antioxidant effects. As the name, the antioxidants found in milk thistle play an important role in protecting body cells against any damages caused by a chemical process occasionally called oxidation. In brief, Milk Thistle is believed as a purifying and repairing herb with about 70 to 80% of Silymarin along with many other constituents working in harmony).
The benefits of milk thistle also include improving inflammatory bowel syndrome and adrenal disorders and treating psoriasis as well. In addition, this herb owns some estrogen-like effects that help improve the flow of breast milk among pregnant as well as breastfeeding women. It is also used to start a late menstrual period in women and aid men in with prostate cancer.
6. Treat Viral Hepatitis
The benefits of milk thistle also include its application for viral hepatitis treatment.
This has been proved by several studies before, which makes milk thistle widely used in the treatment of this disease by improving the activity of enzymes. This herb is also compared with interferon and other remedies for viral hepatitis.
7. Prevent Gallstones
Preventing gallstones is also one of the benefits of milk thistle for the health. As mentioned above, the liver plays a very important role in processing nutrients and toxins absorbed by the body through foods as the major digestive organ. And because the liver works with other digestive organs such as the intestines, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidneys to maintain and improve the whole health including preventing the risks of gallstones and kidney stones while milk thistle is very beneficial in supporting the health of the liver.
To be clear, the benefits of milk thistle on gallstone prevention are characterized through stimulating the production of enzymes and bile thereby supporting the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems and helping clean the blood. Or in other words, this herb helps purify metabolic waste out of the body thereby controlling the gallbladder functions along with the kidneys and spleen.
8. Boost Skin Health
As other vegetables or herbs, boosting the skin health is also considered as one of the important benefits of milk thistle. It has been proved that this herb contains a substance called phytochemicals, like those present in its silymarin, are effective in protecting the skin against UV light-induced oxidative stress, which makes it considered as a potent inhibitor of UV damages that can even cause skin cancer along with other skin diseases. And as mentioned above, silymarin found in milk thistle can protect the cells against bad effects of chemicals and toxins and it also reduces skin damages that are caused by radiation treatments among patients with severe cancer.
To be clearer, a study conducted in 2008 among mice under the effects of strong UV exposure to find out the benefits of milk thistle on the skin health showed that mice who were taken with milk thistle extract experienced much less than the others on its skin indeed. And, of course, this herb is also very useful for the human skin.
9. Prevent Aging Process
Due to the presence of antioxidants, milk thistle can prevent the aging process as one of the natural benefits of milk thistle as well. In fact, those antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage and remove wastes and pollutants from the blood stream and digestive tracts, therefore, they can really slow the aging process. Not only be this true on for the surface of the skin but also for other organs indeed.
In addition, the health benefits of milk thistle include reducing your risks of some common and serious diseases that develop when aging such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver and kidney damages, aged skin, and other vision-related conditions. The protective qualities of milk thistle on the skin make this herb ideal for decreasing the visible signs of aging, which is the reason why you should consume it as an easy and natural way to prevent damages including wrinkles, dark spots, lines, and discoloration even skin cancer. In addition, the benefits of milk thistle due to its antioxidant properties also include maintaining the healthy eyes, joints, and muscles strength.
10. Reduce Inflammation
Reducing inflammation is another one of the health benefits of milk thistle. As mentioned much above, this herb is well known for its silymarin substance that increases stress on the cellular level by triggering cells to die or recover and then reduces total inflammation. It is particularly more effective when combined with other anti-inflammatory compounds, results are increased. The antioxidant properties of this herb help revoke the gene expression of inflammation and although it cannot treat absolutely, it can improve the conditions of the patients indeed.
11. Treat Mushroom Poisoning
Treating mushroom poisoning is also one of the benefits of milk thistle for the health. This is due to the anti-fungal activity of this herb that can neutralize some certain fungal infections, which makes it used as a traditional remedy for mushroom poisoning indeed. Or in other words, milk thistle is applied to the cases of poisoning caused by death cap mushroom as an emergency antidote. According to the studies conducted on animals, the extract of this herb can actually counteract the toxic effects caused by the mushroom after 10 minutes of its ingestion. In addition, if milk thistle is taken in within 24 hours, it can also reduce the risks of liver damages and fierce death. In brief, while many types of mushrooms, especially death cap mushroom, are dangerous and toxic, milk thistle can manage to prevent mortality, so you can use it as an emergency method as well.
12. Relieve Alzheimer’s Disease
Preventing and relieving Alzheimer’s disease symptoms is also one of the benefits of milk thistles for the health, which is relatively related to the stimulation in cognitive ability after consuming this herb’s extract. This opens up other new neural pathways then slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease effectively.
13. Relieve Pharmaceutical Use
Some people suffering from injuries need pharmaceuticals to manage their pain and those very strong painkillers have a profound effect on both the perception of pain and the liver as well. In the case of addiction caused by a long-term use of drugs, milk thistle extract is used to protect the liver or reduce the damages of excessive pharmaceutical use in other words.
14. Other Side Effects
Despite various benefits of milk thistle for the health, you should pay attention that there will be some other side effects when using it in some certain cases.
- Although this herb is not considered as a commonly allergenic substance, it can sometimes cause nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and excess gas.
- In case that you are allergic to ragweed, keep away from using milk thistle because they are closely related.
- Women with estrogen endometriosis or deficiencies should avoid this herb’s extract to avoid the fluctuation in the estrogen levels.
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After reading the article on 14 health benefits of milk thistle extract for the human body in our main Health page, hope that you can see how beneficial this herb is so that adding a suitable amount of milk thistle to your daily diet. Please let us know if you have any question by leaving them below and share with us other health benefits of milk thistle if you know more.