Friday, September 25, 2020

Milk thistle extract has been used by Greek herbalists of antiquity 2,000 years ago to treat liver diseases, snake bite, and mushroom poisoning. In modern times, milk thistle has become the most extensively researched plant for the treatment of liver diseases. The therapeutic component of milk thistle has been identified and is called Silymarin after the scientific name of the pant, Silybum marianum. Silymarin is found in all parts of the milk thistle plant but is present at the highest concentration in the seeds, from which the extract is prepared. When comparing the efficacy of milk thistle extracts from different manufacturers, one should look for the standardized concentration of Silymarin under SUPPLEMENT FACTS on the label.

How does Silymarin Exert its Protective Effect?

  • Silymarin functions as an antioxidant directly reducing free radical formation and
    increases the level of glutathione, the major detoxifying compound in the liver.
  • Silymarin prevents the binding of environmental toxins to cell membrane receptors.
  • It also protects cell membranes by preventing lipid peroxidation.
  • In addition, Silymarin has anti-fibrotic activity, which prevents scar tissue formation.

Against which Types of Toxic Exposure is Milk Thistle Extract Protective?

Studies with experimental animals have confirmed what the ancient herbalists knew that milk thistle seed extract serves as an antidote to mushroom poisoning. It also protects the liver against occupational chemical exposure from carbon-tetrachloride and phenyl-hydrazine. In addition, Silymarin prevents liver damage from acetaminophen overdose, the active ingredient in Tylenol. Milk thistle extract is also protective against heavy metal toxicity and iron overload.

Which Chronic Medical Conditions can be Treated with Milk Thistle Extract?

Several European clinical trials using Silymarin have found improvement in liver function in patients suffering from alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, and acute viral hepatitis. Milk thistle seed extract benefits have also been shown in patients with type 2 diabetes resulting in better blood sugar control. Silymarin has been found beneficial as add-on treatment in diabetic nephropathy, kidney disease associated with diabetes.

What is the Recommended Daily Dosage of Silymarin?

Silymarin has been used at 150 to 300 mg per day for antioxidant and detoxifying effects. In a long-term clinical trial lasting 40 months, the therapeutic dosage of Silymarin used for patients with chronic liver disease was 840 mg per day without significant adverse side-effects. Silymarin is one of the very few supplements that has been tested in nursing women; it has been found to increase milk production safely at a daily dose of 420 mg.

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