What are the uses of the Milk Thistle plant?
The Milk Thistle plant has the following uses:
- It protects the liver from damage from the conditions like alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatitis.
- It prevents age-related age decline in brain functioning due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
- It may prevent bone loss.
- It may be beneficial in the treatment of cancer because it reduces side effects and improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
- It can help improve milk production in breastfeeding women.
- For treatment of acne.
- For blood sugar management in Diabetes.
- It promotes skin health
- It may reduce Insulin resistance.
- It supports the immune system.
- Helps treat allergic asthma symptoms.
When to take Milk Thistle, morning or night?
It is okay to take Milk Thistle at any time in the day morning or night as Milk Thistle is well tolerated by the body.
It can be taken at night because it won’t keep you awake at night. It can be taken during the day because it can be taken on an empty stomach or even combined with meals. It supposedly works better when taken 30 minutes before meals.
If Milk Thistle is to be used as prescription medicine or along with medicine it is suggested to consult your physician before consuming it to prevent interaction with other medicines.
In the video below, Dr. Eric Berg talks about 8 Benefits of Milk Thistle for the Liver
This is our recommended Milk Thistle supplement (Amazon’s Choice):
How long does it take for Milk Thistle to lower liver enzymes?
It can take a minimum of 4 weeks to up to 6 months for Milk Thistle to lower liver enzymes.
- 4 Weeks: In a study, patients with higher levels of liver enzymes were treated with Silymarin ( the active compound of Milk Thistle) for 4 weeks, after the treatment, the researchers found lower levels of liver enzymes in the patients treated with Silymarin than in the placebo group.
- 6 months: In another study patients with chronic alcoholic liver disease who had elevated levels of liver enzymes took Silymarin for 6 months. After six months of the treatment, the levels of liver enzymes were normal as compared to the control group.
How much Milk Thistle should you take a day?
The European Medical Agency recommends taking up to 300-600 mg of Milk Thistle a day. However, other regulatory agencies have not issued any guidelines regarding the dosage of Milk Thistle. Studies show that dosages up to 700 mg 3 times per day for 24 weeks were well tolerated.
Different dosages of Milk Thistle have been suggested to treat different conditions such as:
- Liver disorder: 200-400 mg/ day
- To improve lactation: 420 mg/ day
- To control blood sugar: 200 mg/ day
- For cancer patients: 13 grams/ day
- Viral hepatitis: 2.1 grams/ day
- For mushroom poisoning: very high IV dosage
- As herbal tea: 3-5 grams in boiling water
Should I take Milk Thistle before drinking?
A nutritionist suggests that taking Milk Thistle before drinking can help minimize damage to the liver cells and allow liver cells to function better because of its protective and regenerative effect on liver cells.
The nutritionist also adds that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can also protect the liver from free radical damage caused by alcohol. Also, it can detoxify some of the harmful compounds found in alcohol thus protecting the liver.
Due to its liver-protective properties, Milk Thistle is often recommended for hangovers but there are no studies showing that it can treat or prevent hangovers.
Can Milk Thistle reverse Cirrhosis?
Milk Thistle can not reverse Cirrhosis or existing and extensive liver damage. According to The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Milk Thistle is effective in treating mild liver damage but it is less effective in patients with severe liver damage such as Cirrhosis.
Studies show that Milk thistle can enhance liver function tests and reduce the death rate in patients with alcohol-induced cirrhosis.
It appears that although Milk Thistle offers liver-protective properties it may not be able to reverse or cure liver damage caused by conditions such as Cirrhosis.
Can Milk Thistle affect Bilirubin?
Studies show that Milk Thistle lowers levels of Bilirubin. In a study, Milk thistle extract was used to treat patients having hepatitis and the results were compared to a placebo. The group with Milk Thistle extract had lower levels of bilirubin as compared to the placebo group.
Researchers are studying the role of Bilirubin in decreasing fat in obese patients. Since Milk Thistle decreases levels of bilirubin it may decrease the fat in obese people. A clinical trial is scheduled to be conducted in 2023 to test the effectiveness of Milk Thistle extract to decrease fat in the obese population.
What are the benefits of Milk Thistle for the skin?
Milk Thistle offers the following benefits for the skin:
- It promotes healthy skin.
- It offers anti-oxidant properties which prevent free radical damage to the skin.
- It has anti-aging effects on the skin.
- For the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.
- For prevention of radiation-induced dermatitis in cancer patients.
- To help treat acne.
- When used topically Milk Thistle can protect skin from sun damage.
- Milk Thistle provides relief for skin conditions such as itching and redness.
- When used topically it makes the skin less permeable to toxic chemicals and pollutants.
Can Milk Thistle be used for the treatment of allergies?
Milk Thistle can be used for the treatment of seasonal allergies because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Milk Thistle can also be used to treat allergic dermatitis and hey fever.
A study shows that Milk Thistle extract is effective in treating allergic rhinitis, an allergic condition that affects the nose.
Silymarin, a compound found in Milk Thistle is a potent anti-oxidant, Silymarin reduces the production of proteins called immunoglobulins, factors that contribute to allergies.
Some research shows that taking Milk thistle along with allergy medication such as Cetrizine is more effective in treating allergies than taking the medication alone.
Can Milk Thistle treat eczema?
Studies show that Milk Thistle can be used to treat eczema because it decreases the production of proteins called immunoglobulins. The study shows when a topical formulation containing Milk Thistle extract was applied to the patients suffering from eczema.
During this study 15 patients were treated with the Milk thistle extract, the concentration of Sylimarin was 2.5 mg/ dose, and the patients were treated for 3 months.
After 3 months the patients showed marked improvement in skin condition, relief from itching, and redness. 11 patients out of 15 showed complete cure from eczema.
Does Milk Thistle help in hair growth?
Milk Thistle helps in hair growth because it prevents hair loss and strengthens hair follicles. Some manufacturers suggest that it is more effective when combined with other ingredients.
A study performed by researchers showed that the Milk Thistle extract can help rapid growth of the cells that promote and regenerate hair follicles and hair shaft. The study suggests that Milk Thistle can be helpful for stimulation of hair growth.
The Milk Thistle helps hair growth due to its anti-oxidant activity on the cells, it reverses damage and restores the function of connective tissues, the epicranial layer of the scalp, and the hair follicles.
Is Milk Thistle good for the kidneys?
Milk Thistle is good for the kidneys because it improves their functioning. Milk Thistle extract Silymarin protects against toxicity of the filtration cells of the kidneys when used along with other medicines. The use of Milk Thistle extract to treat kidneys is suggested for diabetic complications.
The researchers suggest that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Milk Thistle can prevent diabetic complications such as kidney disease.
Another study performed on rats demonstrated that Milk Thistle extract corrected the damage caused to the kidney cells due to toxic chemicals.
Does Milk Thistle help with weight loss?
Milk Thistle could help in weight loss because it contains ingredients like Silibinin A, Silibinin B, and Isosilibinin that can aid in weight loss.
A study performed on mice suggest that Milk Thistle can help with weight loss. In this study, the mice were fed the diet intended to increase weight, the study found that the mice that were given Milk Thistle lost 5% of weight as compared to the others. However, more studies in the human model are required to confirm the findings.
Milk Thistle also decreases sugar cravings, improves digestion, and reduces bloating.
What is the dosage of Milk Thistle for bodybuilding?
The suggested dosage of Milk Thistle extract for bodybuilding is 200 mg up to 1-3 times a day. Generally, bodybuilders take Milk Thistle as a complementary supplement along with protein and other nutrient supplements.
Bodybuilders take the Milk Thistle supplement for its liver-protective and anti-oxidant properties that can prevent damage to the liver due to other supplements.
In a study performed on mice, Milk Thistle supplementation improved muscle performance, muscle recovery, and body composition, and the mice gained lean muscles during the eight-week training program. The study shows that Milk Thistle supplementation could have a beneficial effect on muscle building, however, more human studies are required to substantiate the claims.
What is the best way to take Milk Thistle?
The best way to take Milk Thistle is in the form of a supplement extract because it offers high purity, and better activity and the dosage required is much lower than the other forms.
Milk Thistle can be consumed in different formats such as powders, tinctures, tea bags, tablets, or even in a raw form as leaves.
Most of the studies that are done to study Milk Thistle use the extract form, suggesting that it is the most effective for the treatment of various conditions.
How long does Milk Thistle stay in your system?
Milk Thistle can stay up to 30-40 hours in your system. A study shows after consumption of Milk Thistle extract, the excretion of the extract was at its peak at about 8 hours, but the complete clearance from the body may take up to 30-40 hours.
Milk Thistle has different compounds, the different compounds may take different times to get excreted out of the body.
A study performed on volunteers show that after oral administration of Milk Thistle extract, the plasma concentration of different compounds after 12 hours of administration was almost zero indicating complete removal of compounds from the blood system.
What is the difference between Silymarin vs. Milk Thistle?
Silymarin is an active compound present in the Milk Thistle. Besides Silymarin, Milk Thistle also contains compounds such as Sylbin A, Sylbin B, Isolsylbin A, and Isosylbin B.
The compound Silymarin is responsible for most of the therapeutic actions exerted by the Milk Thistle. Silymarin has antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, it also keeps toxins from attaching to liver cells, and it also helps recover from liver diseases.
Many Milk Thistle extract supplements available on the market contain Silymarin as the main component and are sold in the form of powder, capsules, and tablets.
What are the dangers of Milk Thistle?
The main danger of Milk Thistle is that it can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This allergic reaction is common in people who are already allergic to plants such as Ragweed, Daisies, and Marigold. If untreated, anaphylaxis reaction can lead to shock, coma, respiratory and cardiac failure leading to death.
Other dangers of Milk Thistle are:
- Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
- Muscle and joint pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of appetite
Besides the side effects, Milk Thistle may interact with some medications such as antibiotics, anticoagulants, and NSAIDs.
Does Milk Thistle have side effects on estrogen levels?
Since it produces the same effects as estrogen, one of the side effects of Milk Thistle is that it may block the effect of externally administered estrogen. Ultimately it may interfere with the treatment of the patient undergoing estrogen therapy.
In a recent study, when a medication containing Milk Thistle was given to the participant, the medication increased the metabolism of estrogen, reducing the levels of estrogen in the body.
It is advised that patients who are already on estrogen treatment should consult a physician before consuming Milk Thistle.
Can I take Milk Thistle while pregnant?
The European Medical agency does not recommend taking Milk Thistle while pregnant because there is not enough data on its safety during pregnancy.
The studies done on animal shows that Milk Thistle when taken during pregnancy did not affect the course of pregnancy, the development of offspring, the cognition of pups, and the long-term treatment did not have any significant effects on the offspring.
Another clinical trial has shown that Milk Thistle is safe during pregnancy, however, more clinical trials and human studies are required before any conclusion can be drawn.
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