Treatment at an integrative medicine center incorporates not just conventional medicine, nor alternative medicine, but combines several treatment options. In fact, at a holistic center, patients are taken into accounts as whole people. Practitioners address their physical, psychological, and social needs simultaneously. Integrative medicine treats the whole person- mind, body, and spirit, whereas conventional medicine only treats patients’ illnesses. These days, more and more people are seeking alternative treatment methods due to the rising health care costs of conventional medicine and the varied, and some potentially dangerous side effects of prescription drugs. Detoxing the body for optimal health has become greatly important. Milk thistle and chelation therapies are both used by natural and conventional medicine respectively. Each in its own right is used for the purpose of purification or detoxing in some form. Hence, the question is being raised as to whether or not there are side effects of natural supplements, such as milk thistle, and to what degrees.
Uses of Milk Thistle and Its Side Effects
For more than 2,000 years, historically, milk thistle has been used to primarily to treat conditions of the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. Other treatment uses have included, but are not limited to, diabetes complications, hormone related diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, and obesity. Additionally, milk thistle has been used to slow the growth of cancer cells and tumors. As well, the supplement has even been used in the effective treatment of mushroom poisoning.
Although known for its gentle nature and mostly considered safe to use, there are a few reported side effects of milk thistle, though they are minimal and least likely considered toxic. Side effects may include rash, swelling, itching or breathing problems. Allergic reactions are reported to occur in those who are allergic to plants in the aster family, kiwis, artichokes, or daisies.
As with any supplement, it is highly recommended that the careful advice of a physician or highly trained practitioner be considered before use. Mainly, this is recommended as a precaution because the supplement may interfere with some OTC and prescription medications, as well as other herbal supplements. Again, a physician or practitioner can best advise whether or not the use of milk thistle would be beneficial or unadvised for given individuals.
Uses of Chelation Therapy and Its Side Effects
Chelation therapy is a process used by conventional medicine, by which heavy metals (such as mercury and lead) are removed from the bloodstream. Primarily chelation therapy is used to treat patients for heavy metal poisoning, although it has also been used in treating atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Due to many inherent risks, chelation therapy is only used under very careful medical supervision.
Side effects of chelation therapy include:
- sudden loss in blood pressure
- heart failure, kidney damage, which can be irreversible
Similarly, milk thistle and chelation therapy both work to purify and/or detoxify the body of impurities. Both carry some risk of side effects. However, as mentioned the side effects of milk thistle are very minimal, especially in comparison to chelation therapy. That is not to say that one therapy is preferred over the other, but to invoke a judgment call to be made on the parts of individuals’ and their own health care practitioners.