What Are The Benefits of Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is used as a natural remedy to treat a range of health conditions. The active ingredient in milk thistle is called silymarin. It is mainly used to treat liver problems, but some people claim it can lower cholesterol and help manage type 2 diabetes.
Milk thistle is available in a range of forms, and is most popular as a supplement or in tea.
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that comes from the same family of plants as the daisy. It grows in Mediterranean countries and is used to make natural remedies.
Different parts of the milk thistle plant may be used to treat various health conditions. The most common use of milk thistle is for liver problems. Some claim it can help treat:
• gallbladder disorders
Other potential health benefits include protecting heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and helping people manage type 2 diabetes.
Ten health benefits of milk thistle..
1. Supports liver health
One of the most common uses of milk thistle is to treat liver problems. A 2016 study found that milk thistle improved diet-induced liver damage. The active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production. Scientists think this creates a detoxifying effect, which is why milk thistle may be beneficial for liver problems.
2. Promotes skin health
Milk thistle may help to promote healthy skin. A 2015 study found that milk thistle helped improve inflammatory skin conditions when applied to the skin.
Milk thistle was also found to have antioxidant and anti-aging effects on human skin cells in a laboratory environment in another study.
3. Reduces cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to problems with heart health and increase a person's chance of stroke.
A 2006 study suggests milk thistle may play an important role keeping cholesterol levels down. It found that cholesterol levels were lower in people taking milk thistle to treat diabetes than those taking a placebo.
4. Supports weight loss
Initial research conducted in 2016 found that silymarin caused weight loss in subjects that were fed a diet intended to cause weight gain.
This suggests milk thistle may be beneficial for those looking to lose weight.
5. Reduces insulin resistance
A study found milk thistle extract helped to reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a problem for people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Improves allergic asthma symptoms
The active ingredient in milk thistle can help to reduce inflammation. A 2012 study found that silymarin helped to protect against inflammation in the airways of subjects with allergic asthma.
7. Limits the spread of cancer
Milk thistle may help to stop the spread of certain types of cancer. A 2016 review found that milk thistle extract inhibited the growth of cancerous cells in colorectal cancer.
8. Supports bone health
Milk thistle may play an essential role in supporting bone health. A 2013 study found that milk thistle helped to prevent bone loss.
9. Improves cognition
A 2015 study found that milk thistle increased resistance to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a potential cause of Alzheimer's disease.
In this way, milk thistle may help improve cognition and treat degenerative conditions that affect the mind.
10. Boosts the immune system
Milk thistle may help strengthen a person's immune response and help them fight off infection. A 2016 study found that milk thistle extract improved the immunity when consumed. An older study found that milk thistle extract had a positive effect on immune response in humans.
How to use milk thistle
Milk thistle is available as a supplement from many health food stores. There is no standard dose of milk thistle, so it is best to read the dosage suggested on the packaging.
Milk thistle is also available as a tea or the herbs can be used to make a tea. If drinking milk thistle tea, it is best to limit intake to 6 cups a day.
Risks and considerations
Milk thistle may interact with some medications. This is of particular concern if a person is already receiving treatment for liver conditions.