Milk Thistle: 6 Amazing Health Benefits

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milk thistle

Milk Thistle:  6 Amazing Health Benefits

Milk thistle is a flowering plant that is part of the daisy family.  It gets its name from its bristly and prickly nature and the “milky” sap that oozes out of the plant.  The leaves, fruits and seeds of milk thistle have been used for centuries as a natural medicine.  Milk thistle is one of the world’s most powerful liver detoxifying agents.  In this article, you will discover 6 amazing health benefits of milk thistle and how to get it for yourself!

Milk thistle was used by medical herbalists in the late nineteenth century to treat varicose veins and liver, spleen and kidney disorders (1).  Today, it is primarily used to improve the function of the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal system.  Many individuals have seen dramatic improvement using milk thistle for health issues such as psoriasis, menstrual problems, jaundice and poor circulation.

milk thistle

Milk Thistle and Liver Health:

The active antioxidant compound within milk thistle is the flavonoid complex called Silymarin. (2)  This anti-oxidant is one of the most powerful liver detoxifying agents.  It helps to boost glutathione and superoxide dismutase which are two the bodies master super antioxidants.  One study found that silymarin increased glutathione content in the intestines and liver by up to 50%.  Boosting glutathione helps protect the intestines from inflammatory damage that leads to ulcers and colitis.

Milk thistle guards the liver’s numerous hepatic cell membranes and slows the rate at which toxins can be absorbed into the liver.  Research has shown that silymarin enhances protein synthesis to enhance liver cell regeneration and counteract the effects of poisons on the liver.   It has been used to treat alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis-liver poisoning and viral hepatitis.

milk thistle

Silymarin and Kidney Health:

Silymarin concentrates in kidney cells where it helps repair and regenerate protein enzymes and DNA.  One study indicated that it increased kidney cell replication by 25-30% over control groups.  This is extremely important for individuals who have suffered mild to severe kidney damage from infections, kidney stone formation or environmental toxins.

The kidneys are one of the major organs that are damaged by chemotherapy agents.  Research has shown that the major compounds in silymarin protect the kidneys from these dangerous drugs.  In particular, they protect the cell membrane of the kidney cells allowing for healthy cell receptor activity.

Silymarin is considered to be 10 times as potent as Vitamin E and increases the activity of the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) in red and white blood cells in patients suffering with liver disease.  This increases oxygenation and immunity.

Studies have shown that the major compounds of silymarin are silybin and silychristin.  These compounds have low absorption rate at about 20-50%.  It is better to use milk thistle in a standardized extract when looking for a supplemental form.

Milk Thistle as a Demulcent:

Milk Thistle is a demulcent that improves the health of the bodies mucous membranes.  This reduces inflammation within the skin cells, sinus and respiratory tract and kidney and bladder wall lining. (3)  It also reduces inflammatory stress in the bile duct and inhibits the formation of gallstones.  This improves the functionality of the gallbladder and allows for complete bile release.

Milk Thistle also helps soften and improve the moisturization of the skin,  This is especially helpful for individuals with acne and eczema and other skin impurities.  It has also been shown to improve the overall glow and radiance of the skin quality. (4)

My Favorite Product:

The milk thistle product I use has profound effects on the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and intestines and the thyroid.  The liver is responsible for deactivating toxins and helping them move out of the body through the urine and bowels.  When the liver and lymphatic system is sluggish, it puts more stress on the kidneys and intestinal lining.

Liver Support combines a high dosage of milk thistle (500 mg per serving), plus 600 mg of the key glutathione boosting agent N-Acetyl Cysteine and 500 mg of full spectrum Reishi mushroom.  It also contains the renowned lymphatic system herb, burdock (250 mg) as well as key adaptogens Cordyceps (500 mg) and Schisandra (250 mg).

The mushroom extracts and herbal ingredients in this product are designed to protect liver cells against oxidative damage which may affect the function of the liver. The ingredients also actively contribute to detoxification processes in the liver by supplying nutrients that may enhance the biochemical reactions involved in neutralizing harmful substances.  You can find this product here

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Sources For This Article Include:

1. Aslan A, Can Mİ. Milk thistle impedes the development of carbontetrachloride-induced liver damage in rats through suppression of bcl-2 and regulating caspase pathway. Life Sci. 2014 Nov 4;117(1):13-8. PMID: 25305509
2. Post-White J, Ladas EJ, Kelly KM. Advances in the use of milk_thistle (Silybum marianum). Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Jun;6(2):104-9. PMID: 17548789
3. Li D, Xu D, Wang T, Shen Y, Guo S, Zhang X, Guo L, Li X, Liu L, Wen F. Silymarin attenuates airway inflammation induced by cigarette smoke in mice. Inflammation. 2015 Apr;38(2):871-8. PMID: 25117568
4. Natural News: Milk Thistle: The Herb for Liver Health and More Link Here

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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  1. Great article. Just wish this supplement had much lower milligrams, say 125 mg. Milk Thistle and between 50-75 mg. ALA, etc. I have to detox slowly and need smaller dosage due to MCS. I also like smaller capsules (even though it may require more pills) as it is difficult to swallow larger ones.

  2. Milk thistle took away my many knots i had in my stomach. Fatty liver non achole fatty liver. Now for kidney and heart health

  3. I’m on a low dose of desiccated thyroid, and if I took this would it heal the problem, and would I be able to get off my Thyroid meds?

    1. It depends on the cause of your thyroid issues Cheryl. I don’t make medication recommendations but when following the right protocols there have been cases where medication was no longer needed. This might take a more in depth approach. Email if you are interested!

  4. sir how can reduce biliburin leval in leaver beacause i have jaundice i checked blood test report there have high biliburin leval in leaver sir. can i uesd milk thistle for this treatment

  5. Dr I have pinguecula eye from last year and after several month milk thistle seed powder steep. Drinking then my eyes are much much better.
    tear lublicating and much less red blood vessel in my eyes
    Dr do you think pinguecula is relating liver?
    Do you think it will cure eventually?
    My english and typing is problem very sorry dr.

    1. Tony no natural sun light in your eyes! Read up about pinguecula apparently it’s caused by uv rays! Keep your eyes covered use eye drops to keep your eyes moist and keep taking the milk thistle I have done quite a lot of research as I too have pinguecula in both my eyes I use eye drops but i too am going to start taking milk thistle as I too think it could also be liver related good luck I hope our pinguecula completely goes away one day

  6. I had gall bladder removal, then issues with bile duct, elevated enzymes, another surgery. I took milk Thistle, reduced liver enzymes, improved my health. I take twice a day, and also dandelion root tea. It saved my liver!

  7. As far as I know I don’t have anything wrong with my organs, except that when I empty my bladder my bowels empty as well. Would it be beneficial for me to take Milk Thistle.h

  8. Could you please explain in a little more detail what would be considered a hormone related issue that it wouldn’t be safe to take the supplement. Specifically asking about Breast Cancer.

  9. It is also a liver protectant. Mice fed milk thistle were able to survive being fed a very deadly mushroom that attacks the liver.

  10. Hi Doctor,
    Because I have sjogrens, I have difficulty in swallowing. What are your thoughts on Milk thistle tinctures or extracts. Are they as good as the pills?

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