Milk Thistle: 10 Things It Can Do For You

milk thistle

In case you’re itching to switch things up and need some alternative to coffee, milk thistle seed-like fruits have been consumed for hundreds of years as a coffee alternative. This flowering plant originates from the same family of plants as the daisy. It grows in Mediterranean countries and is used to produce natural health remedies.

The different parts of the milk thistle plant—leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds may also be used to manage several health conditions. It is commonly believed that milk thistle is effective in treating liver problems like jaundice, cirrhosis, gallbladder disorders, and hepatitis. In some cases, it has been helpful in managing type 2 diabetes and lowering cholesterol levels.


milk thistle


We have explored the potential health benefits of milk thistle below.

1. Enhances skin health

Skin health is an especially important, given the issues that hit us especially hard, such as discoloration and disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. And according to a 2015 study, milk thistle, when applied t the skin of mice, can improve skin inflammatory conditions.

In another study, it was also found to be beneficial for skin health as it contains antioxidant and anti-aging ingredients that are good for human skin cells.


2. Improves liver health

It’s pretty worrying, particularly when you consider the growing number liver diseases due to proliferation of “detox teas” and “skinny teas”.  However, like it was stated earlier, milk thistle can prove effective in treating liver problems. In fact, in a 2016 study,  it was discovered that milk thistle helped in improving diet-induced liver damage in mice.

Though more evidence is needed to prove that milk thistle benefits human in the same way. But results from recent research seem to support the idea that it does. This is because silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle functions as an antioxidant by limiting the production of free radicals. This, in turn, creates a detoxifying effect that may be vital in treating liver problems.

As a precautionary measure, milk thistle should not be taken as a primary treatment option for liver diseases. Until more research is carried out, it should be taken only as a complementary treatment.


3. Lowers cholesterol levels

Whether we admit it or not, issues like weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels remain a popular way to gauge our health and fitness. It is has even been proven that high cholesterol levels can result in heart-related health problems and a high chance of suffering a stroke.

It has been found that milk thistle may play an essential role in lowering cholesterol levels. Milk thistle is also helpful in managing diabetes.


milk thistle


4. Improves allergic asthma symptoms

Although the solutions to allergic asthma symptoms aren’t so simple, but silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle is effective in reducing inflammation. Silymarin, in a 2016 study, was proven to protect against inflammation in the airways of mice with allergic asthma.


5. Beneficial for bone health

Studies have indicated that milk thistle may help to prevent bone loss, especially those caused by estrogen deficiency.

However, it is not yet proven if with other causes of bone loss, milk thistle can be beneficial.


milk thistle


6. Improves cognition

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is potentially caused by oxidative stress? Anyway, there is no need to be afraid—results from a 2015 study suggest that milk thistle can increase resistance to oxidative stress.


7. Supports weight loss

For those who step on a scale and feel sad when the numbers are spelled out, milk thistle can be effective for keeping your weight on track.  Results from a research conducted in 2016 suggest that silymarin contained in milk thistle, induced weight loss in mice that were fed a diet intended to make them gain weight.

Thankfully, this means milk thistle may be helpful to those watching their weight.


8. Reduces insulin resistance

Well, although there have been several health aids promising to effectively manage diabetes in the U.S. for decades, there is some recent research that shows that milk thistle may not be a good way to go about it.

For people with type 2 diabetes, a study on mice showed that milk thistle extract can help in lowering insulin resistance. Although more research is needed to confirm whether milk thistle supports overall diabetes management.


milk thistle


9. Boosts the immune system

Milk thistle can have a positive effect on a person’s immunity and helps them combat infections. Research has found that milk thistle extract improves immunity when consumed.


10. Limits the spread of cancer

To stop the spread of some types of cancer, milk thistle may be a good option. Research has discovered that milk thistle extract greatly limited the growth of cancerous cells.

However, more research is needed in this regard to ascertain just how milk thistle helps to fight cancer.

 milk thistle


Milk thistle supplement

In many health food stores, milk thistle is available as a supplement and as a tea. Though, there is no standard dose of milk thistle, it is best to read the dosage suggested on the packaging before consumption.


Side effects

It is common knowledge that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate supplements. So, as milk thistle is a supplement, it is advisable to buy it from reputable retailers.

Seeing as milk thistle may interact with some medications, especially for liver problems, it is best to consult a qualified medical practitioner before considering it as a treatment option.


Bottom line

People are increasingly considering diets and supplements as a way to monitoring what they look like on the outside. Milk thistle is one such option, with its range of potential health benefits due to its active antioxidant ingredient called silymarin.

However, because more research needs to be done on the benefits of milk thistle, it is always a good idea to consult a medical expert before using milk thistle or any other supplement. This due to the fact that it may interact with medications for other health conditions.