Liver Health: The Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle in Basket

For over 2000 years the seeds of the milk thistle plant have been used to treat chronic liver disease and protect the liver against toxins.

The seeds can be made into an extract used as a liver tonic, and research suggests that milk thistle extracts both prevent and repair damage to the liver from toxic chemicals and medications.

All parts of the milk thistle plant can also be eaten. As a popular 16th century medicinal herb, the plants roots were boiled and buttered, or par-boiled and roasted, or even eaten raw. In the springtime, young milk thistle shoots were harvested and also prepared the same way. Even the leaves of the milk thistle plant were trimmed of the prickly parts and boiled as a substitute spinach dish. This part of the plant was also added raw to salads.

Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle in BasketQuestion for Dr. Leia: Over the past several years, my liver enzymes (ALT and AST) elevate and then return to normal. I took milk thistle the last time to restore my enzymes to a normal level. In taking milk thistle, am I just covering up a problem or is this indeed a remedy whereas no additional damage is being done? Please give me your viewpoint and why.

Dr. Leia’s Answer: Thank you for asking this question. Liver enzymes become elevated when there is inflammation, disorder, or infection. So, as always, it is first important to rule out the cause of the elevated enzymes. This can be attributed to an infectious agent such as a bacteria, virus, or mononucleosis, or even excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs, or chemicals. Seeking out the cause of the problem is very important.

About Milk Thistle

Milk thistle, also called holy thistle or Mary thistle, is scientifically categorized as Silybum marianum. It is an herb that has been used for ancient centuries without any serious side effects. To date, most of the studies on this herb have been done outside of the United States, mainly in Europe. However, currently there is increased interest in milk thistle and its healing properties, and there are studies being done by the National Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Research includes using milk thistle for HIV, cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, digestive diseases, kidney, and other liver disorders.

Powdered Milk ThistleMilk thistle’s major component is silybinin, which is found in the seeds of the plant. Purportedly, it has an affinity for the liver and is beneficial to liver function, exerting protective properties upon this organ. Traditional uses include treatment for hepatitis, liver inflammation, alcohol liver cirrhosis and all other liver problems, gall bladder diseases, kidney disorders, diabetes and insulin resistance, and cancerous and malignant cell growths of the prostate, breast, and the cervix.

Side Effects of Milk Thistle

Because milk thistle is a member of the aster and daisy family, caution should be used in people with plant allergies to ragweed, daisy, marigold, asters, and chrysanthemum. Reported side effects reported are usually, and can include diarrhea, soft stools, stomach distress, and distention.

You may wish to view the complete informational report put out by the US Department of Health & Human Services on milk thistle.

In my opinion, milk thistle has helped many people with liver problems with minimal side effects and no serious complications, other than plant allergies. I hold this herb in high regard for the above mentioned problems. I sincerely hope this helps you in your quest for knowledge.

Dr. Leia

Holy Tea! Holy Detox Increases Weight Loss

Package of Holy TeaSummer is the perfect time to lose those extra pounds that have accumulated over the winter.

Dr. Miller’s Holy Tea has been naturally helping people with detox and weight loss for many years. We located a resource for this excellent product at a very good price. This detox and weight loss tea contains milk thistle and several other beneficial herbs that aid the body in restoring balance and eliminating the build up of toxic substances and even parasites that accumulate in the digestive track and tissues.

One gallon of tea will last a whole week or more and keeps well in the fridge. Drink a couple of glasses a day to feel better while supporting liver health and body detoxification.