The milk thistle plant, originally from Europe, has spread to different countries and is known for its traditional use in treating various health issues. Despite ongoing research, we’re still determining all its benefits, as findings have yet to be conclusive. However, milk thistle might be helpful for specific health conditions. If you want to learn more about this plant—how people use it, its potential benefits, and any side effects it might have—read this blog. It aims to provide complete information about milk thistle, making it easy to understand its uses and what to watch out for.
What is Milk Thistle?
The milk thistle plant is also known as the Mary or holy thistle. It is a tall plant with white-veined dark green leaves and large purple flower heads. It is native to the Mediterranean region but has become naturalized elsewhere, including the U.S., California, South America, Africa, and Australia. The plant is known for its extract, derived from its seeds and called silymarin. Silymarin is believed to have liver-protecting properties. Milk thistle supplements are often used to support liver health. Some studies suggest that milk thistle has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In What Forms Can I Take Milk Thistle?
There are various forms you can consume milk thistle to prevent ailments:
Milk thistle capsule: Milk thistle is now available in capsule form across the world. You can easily buy them from any drugstore, pharmacy, or online store. You can take milk thistle 1-2 capsules with milk or water, or as suggested by your doctor. You can take it once or twice a day.
Milk thistle tablet: Tablets are also the same as capsules. You can take milk thistle 1-2 tablets or as the doctor recommends. It would help if you took it twice daily, preferably after meals.
Milk thistle powder: If you don’t want to swallow capsules or tablets, you can purchase milk thistle powder, it will give you the same results. Mix half a tablespoon of thistle powder with milk or water and drink as the doctor prescribes.
Milk thistle tea: Milk thistle tea is like a special drink made from the seeds of the milk thistle plant. To make a healthy milk thistle drink, gently heat the leaves or seeds in hot water, strain the mixture, and drink it once or twice a day, preferably after meals.
Science-Backed Benefits of Milk Thistle
Traditionally, milk thistle is used for problems with the liver and gallbladder, but it is now used for various purposes. It is beneficial for some health issues but ineffective for others.
Possibly effective on Diabetes
It is considered one of the best natural remedies for individuals with diabetes. Controlling the symptoms of diabetes is one of the leading milk thistle benefits. Mixing milk thistle extract with turmeric milk can help reduce blood sugar levels. It is also effective on the below-mentioned health conditions but does not have strong evidence.
It might help reduce skin acne and lessen acne severity.
Some studies stated that milk thistle helps treat liver disease caused by drinking too much alcohol, but some researchers recorded no benefits at all. A National Library of Medicine study stated that it may slightly extend the life expectancy of individuals suffering from liver and gallbladder conditions.
Age-related neurological conditions
Milk thistle is popularly used as a natural remedy for some neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Managing neurological conditions is considered a benefit of milk thistle. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties work as a neuroprotective agent. According to the National Library of Medicine research, milk thistle helps reduce the number of amyloid plaques (Alzheimer’s cells in animals).
Osteoporosis is a condition caused by progressive bone loss which weakens and fragile the bones that can break easily. According to an experiment by the National Library of Medicine, milk thistle stimulates bone and protects against bone loss. The experiment is done on animal bones; its effects on humans remain unknown.
Might be beneficial for cancer
It is also proven that it might be useful for cancer treatments. Some studies stated that milk thistle has proven helpful in reducing the side effects of cancer treatments.
It can boost breast milk production
Milk thistle may increase milk production in lactating women, though very little research has been done to confirm its effects.
Milk Thistle Side Effects
Here are some milk thistle side effects. It includes:
Digestive Issues: Some individuals may experience mild digestive disturbances such as nausea, bloating, or indigestion. This is one of the most common side effects of milk thistle.
Allergic Reactions: Allergic responses to milk thistle can occur, leading to symptoms like itching, rash, or difficulty breathing in rare cases.
Interactions with Medications: Milk thistle may interact with certain medications, affecting their efficacy or leading to unintended side effects.
Diarrhea: In some cases, the consumption of milk thistle has been associated with diarrhea. Most individuals experience diarrhea after consuming milk thistle. This is a common side effect of milk thistle.
Headaches: A few individuals may experience headaches as a side effect of using milk thistle supplements.
Hormonal Effects: There is a theoretical concern about potential hormonal effects, although more research is needed to understand this aspect fully.
Blood Sugar Effects: People with diabetes should exercise caution, as milk thistle might influence blood sugar levels.
Milk Thistle Cancer Warning
There’s no solid proof that milk thistle can treat or prevent cancer. Some studies suggest it might have anti-cancer properties, but we’re still determining. It’s not recommended to rely only on milk thistle for cancer entirely, and you should talk to your doctor for proper advice. Don’t believe claims that milk thistle can cure or prevent cancer without more evidence.
Is Milk Thistle Good for the Liver?
Some studies suggest that milk thistle could be good for your liver and protect it from harm. It might also help in some other health issues, such as cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B caused by excessive alcohol consumption. However, most experts stated that we’re unsurestill determining if it works. But, in simple terms, we don’t have enough solid proof to say if milk thistle is a reliable solution for liver problems.
All in all, milk thistle plant herbal remedy from Europe solves various ailments. While multiple studies suggest the benefits of diabetes, acne, and even cancer treatments, it is essential to use it correctly. The research on its effectiveness remains inconclusive, reminding us there’s more to learn. In a nutshell, if you are considering milk thistle, consult your doctor for more personalized advice.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to take milk thistle?
Take milk thistle supplements with meals to enhance absorption, typically during breakfast or lunch.
Is milk thistle safe?
Generally considered safe, but consult an experienced doctor to ensure compatibility with your health and medications.
How long should I take milk thistle to detox the liver?
Duration varies; consult your doctor for personalized advice on using milk thistle to detox the liver.
What is the best milk thistle supplement?
Choose a reputable brand with standardized extract, ensuring it contains at least 70-80% silymarin.
Is 1000mg of milk thistle too much?
It’s advisable to start with a lower dose (e.g., 200-400 mg) and consult your doctor before exceeding 1000mg.
What medications should not be taken with milk thistle?
Avoid combining milk thistle with medications like statins, antipsychotics, and certain cancer drugs; consult your doctor.
Is it reasonable to take milk thistle for fatty liver?
Some studies suggest benefits for fatty liver but consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and monitoring.
When to take milk thistle, morning or night?
You can take milk thistle anytime during meals.
What is Tudca vs milk thistle?
TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid) is a bile salt with potential liver-protective effects, while milk thistle is an herbal supplement known for its antioxidant properties, often used to support liver health.