Milk thistle Extract is a popular herbal remedy. It is sourced from the milk thistle plant, which is also called Silybum Marianum. This is a prickly plant that has purple flowers with white veins. The active ingredient in milk thistle is a group of plant compounds called silymarin. The herbal remedy itself is called milk thistle extract. There are a few ways that milk thistle is used.
Uses of Milk Thistle
There are several ways that people commonly use milk thistle. Some of the most popular examples include:
- Milk thistle is sometimes used as a treatment for certain types of liver problems such as hepatitis, gallbladder issues, jaundice, and cirrhosis.
- Some people use milk thistle to help them reduce their cholesterol levels, which benefits the heart.
- In some cases, milk thistle is used to help people with diabetes who have developed cirrhosis as a complication of this endocrine condition.
Given that milk thistle is commonly used to help people with liver disorders, it is important to take a closer look at how milk thistle actually accomplishes this mission.
Liver and Detox Benefits of Milk Thistle
One of the main reasons why milk thistle extract is promoted is that it could have protective effects on the liver, helping the body improve its ability to detox certain compounds. For example, milk thistle is commonly used by people who have developed liver damage such as:
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Certain forms of hepatitis
- Certain types of liver cancer
In addition, research has shown that milk thistle can actually protect the liver against certain types of toxins such as amatoxin. This is a toxin that is produced by the death cap mushroom. This toxin can actually be deadly if people ingest it.
Finally, certain studies have also shown that people who take milk thistle can actually show improvement in their overall liver function. Specifically, individuals who have developed inflammation, scarring, and other signs of prolonged liver damage could actually show improvement if they take milk thistle.
Even though research into the exact mechanism of how milk thistle helps people improve their liver damage is still being conducted, early evidence shows that milk thistle might be able to reduce damage to the liver that is caused by free radicals. Free radicals are a specific byproduct that is often produced when the liver breaks down certain types of substances. Milk thistle contains a compound called silybin. Silybin is the specific molecules that is thought to protect the liver from damage by scavenging free radicals. By helping the liver avoid damage caused by free radicals, milk thistle might be able to provide protective effects for the liver.
The Hangover Benefits of Milk Thistle Extract
There are also many people who feel like milk thistle could help them avoid a hangover. It is important to understand how a hangover happens. When the body breaks down alcohol, alcohol is converted into a compound called acetaldehyde by a compound known as acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol end up with more acetaldehyde in their systems, which contributes to the nauseous feelings and headaches that people feel afterward.
It is important for everyone to note that there is no evidence that milk thistle actually has any impact on the body’s ability to process alcohol or on the enzyme’s activity level when it comes to processing alcohol and acetaldehyde. Therefore, milk thistle does not have a direct effect on someone’s hangover. On the other hand, milk thistle does provide some protective benefits for the liver itself. Therefore, if milk thistle does have any benefits on someone’s hangover, this is where it is likely to be found. Those who would like to avoid a hangover in the morning should try to watch their drinking and make sure they hydrate before bed. This can also help people protect their liver from harm.
Safety Considerations and Potential Side Effects of Milk Thistle
In general, milk thistle is very safe and does not cause very many side effects. At the same time, those who take milk thistle in excessive amounts might end up noticing a few side effects. Some of the most common side effects of milk thistle include:
- Excessive consumption of milk thistle could cause people to develop diarrhea
- There are also situations where milk thistle could lead to bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, and an upset stomach in general
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use milk thistle
- Those who have a ragweed allergy should avoid milk thistle because this could lead to a rash or a severe allergic reaction
- Because milk thistle can mimic the effects of estrogen, women who have fibroid tumors, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or endometriosis should also make sure that they stay away from milk thistle
There are other, rarer side effects of milk thistle as well; however, these are the most common safety considerations that people need to note when it comes to this popular herb.
When taken correctly, milk thistle could have a number of beneficial and protective effects for someone’s liver. It is a good idea to speak with a health professional about milk thistle as well.