Milk Thistle is an extract of a plant that is closely related to both daisy and ragweed, it is found mainly in Mediterranean countries. It is characterized by marbled leaves with splashes of white and a purple flower. Also known by the names, Silybum marianum and St Mary’s thistle, it is commonly used in herbal medicine. While the extract can be gotten from the body of the plant, the seeds contain a higher concentration.
The active ingredient, Silymarin, contains regenerative properties that are beneficial to the liver. The milk thistle seed extract benefits can be found in Patients who suffer from various liver related diseases such as, cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver, and fibrosis. While milk thistle is not widely used in the United States it is prescribed in other countries. In Quebec and Pakistan the extract is prescribed not only for patients who have received liver transplants, but also the treatment of hepatitis.
Mind, body and Soul
Additional benefits linked to the use of milk thistle extract include, lowered cholesterol, reduced growth of cancer cells and the reduction of symptoms associated with menopause. Studies done at Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York, have concluded increased brain function in patients who suffer from cognitive deficiencies associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The milk thistle plant is edible and is often substituted for spinach in salads. The seeds can be roasted in a similar fashion to coffee beans. When using or consuming milk milk, be sure not to confuse it with the similar Blessed Thistle plant.
thistle seed extract comes in many forms, including:
- Liquid food additive
The use of thistle milk can be traced back for over 2,000 years to the 4th century B.C., subsequently it is there is mention of its use by Pliny the Elder, commander in the Roman Empire, and Von Haller a Swiss anatomist. The next reported use of Silymarin is by the Greeks and Romans for the treatment of snake bites. During the Middle Ages patients were often prescribed the extract to relieve symptoms associated with jaundice and gallstones. To this day, it remains a common medicine used in Europe, Asian and North Africa. In North America it is considered a homeopathic treatment and is available over the counter in health food stores and online. More recently is has been praised by many authors including, Volker Schulta and Henry Leclerc, for it’s positive treatment of bile duct and spleen disorders.