What is Milk Thistle? Benefits And Side Effects of Milk Thistle


What is Milk Thistle?

Milk Thistle uses and the health benefits of Milk Thistle are hot topics on the lips of many due to the rediscovered health benefits of this ancient herb. Milk Thistles are of the genus ‘Silybum Adans’ and are flowering plants of the daisy family.

They are mottled with shades of white and contain a milky sap, thus the name ‘Milk Thistle’. A few of its other names are Marian thistle, Holy thistle, St. Mary’s thistle, and Our Lady’s thistle. It’s from the ‘Asteraceae’ family. They are both annual or biennial plants. They are large and have disc-shaped, pink-to-purple solitary flower heads. ‘Tubular florets’ describes the flowers. The upper leaves have a clasping base and the lower leaves are cauline, meaning ‘attached to the stem without a petiole.

Where does Milk Thistle come from?

The answer is they come from the Mediterranean regions of Europe and are, as stated above, a flowering plant of the daisy family. But it’s not the flowering part that herbalists are after.

The seeds of the Milk Thistle are used for treating chronic liver disease, and to protect the liver against toxins. Research is still being done on them and their effects on the body and their possible therapeutic applications.

Benefits of Milk Thistle seed extract and possible Milk Thistle side effects

What is this Milk Thistle seed extract good for and how will it help your health? In this article, I will provide a general overview of exploring the health benefits of Milk Thistle. This plant belongs to the same family of plants as daisies. The health benefits of the plant have been known for centuries but it is only relatively recently, with the interest in natural and herbal remedies around the world, that people have started to accept this particular plant in a more significant way. Read on to explore the different health-related aspects Milk Thistle is being used for.

Beneficial Part of the Plant

The seeds are the main part of the plant that is beneficial to your health. Within the flowers, there are black seeds that contain a chemical that is known as Silymarin, a known antioxidant. It is already widely known that antioxidants are useful in maintaining health and well-being. Silymarin can destroy free radicals that are present in the body. If free radicals are not destroyed, they will interfere with our metabolic reactions and cause them to slow down.

Ageing Process

Free radicals interfere with metabolic activities in bodies that then cause the ageing process to take place, or they can even accelerate the signs of ageing. If the free radicals are removed, Milk Thistle seeds will help to slow down the ageing process.

Weight Loss

In some people, weight gain can be caused by faulty digestive processes, also related to metabolic activities that take place in our bodies. There are antioxidants present in Milk Thistle that are known to help in improving digestion, in turn providing benefits when the aim is to lose weight.

Milk Thistle Liver Detox

Most significantly, the properties of the Milk Thistle plant known to be most beneficial in the present day are the benefits in the health of the liver. This herb has the presence of chemicals that can help to detoxify the liver, thereby saving it from the detrimental effects of toxins that are present in our bodies. Milk Thistle is beneficial that it is also possible to actually reverse some damage that is caused to the liver through excesses in alcohol use, or alcoholism. Additionally, it can help prevent some diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

It is possible to repair the damage done to the liver through wear and tear through a regeneration process. Worn-out cells will grow back again during the process known as regeneration. In those subjects where the cell regeneration does not take place as a natural process, Milk Thistle is able to cause the process of regeneration to start up again.

Other Conditions

Milk Thistle is also a good aid to the treatment of conditions such as endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition that affects the uterus.

For those people who may suffer from excessive growth of skin cells, the benefits of Milk Thistle can be seen in a reduction of skin cell growth. This is a dangerous condition that can lead to permanent defects through time and Milk Thistle is beneficial in checking skin cell growth.

Cholesterol builds up in cavities of the arteries, potentially leading to arteriosclerosis. Antioxidant properties in Milk Thistle help to metabolize these cholesterols thereby removing them from the arteries of the body.

What is the recommended Milk Thistle dosage?

The ideal dosage of silymarin for an adult is between 200 and 400mg. This dose should be taken one to three times daily. Your body type, current health can also play a role in how effective the herb is. You are best to start with smaller doses to see how it affects you

As a general recommendation, you should take 2-3ml of Milk Thistle as a liquid extract, but the correct dosage for you depends on the current condition of your health. This dosage should be taken 3 times every day. If you have any doubts about the right dosage, contact a medical expert. For some people with certain conditions experience Milk Thistle side effects, but the benefits of Milk Thistle are recognized around the world, especially in relation to liver detox. If you are currently experiencing gallbladder or liver problems, this supplement provides a natural answer that can improve your health and alleviate many of your symptoms.

Is Milk Thistle Safe?

Before taking any supplement such as milk thistle, you might want to answer the question is milk thistle safe? While not many side effects outside of indigestion have been noted, it is still recommended that people see their physician before taking the supplements on their own.

Milk thistle is known for its treatment of liver disorders, as well as hepatitis, but there are some disorders where people are advised to have a doctor consultation first, and those are Endometriosis, Uterine fibroids, allergies (whether to foods, preservatives, or dyes), cancer, and any chronic medical condition.

When considering taking milk thistle supplements to keep in mind that they are not regulated as closely as prescription drugs, and they may not be marked without proof that they are safe or are effective. To assume is not a good risk, and don’t think because it’s sold in countries like the United States that it’s guaranteed to be safe.

Is milk thistle safe? If you can be sure you have the right stuff, and if you are sure of the proper doses and proper way to take it, then findings have shown it to be basically safe, with only indigestion to watch for. But the kicker is in getting hold of the wrong product without knowing it, so be careful in your decisions about using it.

Side Effects of Milk thistle

There may be some Milk Thistle side effects to worry about, but usually due to specific special circumstances. This is true even though for many years it’s been reported as a user-friendly herb.

The power of the Milk Thistle is in the seeds, where the ingredient silymarin is contained. This is a compound that gathers inside the liver and attacks free radicals. Jaundice and cirrhosis are two of the biggest uses for Milk Thistle, with research showing on the positive side in favour of its use. The gallbladder and pancreas can also benefit from the seeds.

One of the possible side effects of Milk Thistle is diarrhoea. The way to avoid it is to take in some fibre along with your supplement, then you should be good to go. Another Milk Thistle caution is to make sure if you are taking supplements, that yours says it contains at least 80% silymarin. There might be an issue for those who take prescription medications for HIV. Those who are taking protease inhibitors and non-nukes need to be aware that these are processed in the liver by an enzyme called CYP3A4. Silymarin, which is the active ingredient in the Milk Thistle, decreases this enzyme, which can be harmful to HIV patients.

This supplement may indeed protect the kidneys against toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy treatment with cisplatin. But a laboratory study showed that the anti-cancer effect of cisplatin and ifosfamide was reduced in the presence of the Milk Thistle. You should meet with your health care provider for a chat about this before adding any new herbs or supplements to the existing medication regimen, and this is especially true if you’re undergoing chemotherapy.


This relatively unknown plant, Milk Thistle, has various health benefits. Many people are beginning to consider it as one of the most useful herbs known to humans in recent times. The benefits of Milk Thistle are easier to acquire from Milk Thistle extract capsules. With a quality supplement, you will get quality results.

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