Even before every human being living today came into existence, Milk thistle, or scientifically known as Silybum marianum, has been used in the treatment and prevention of various diseases affecting the gastrointestinal system. There are several explanations from various studies on how Milk thistle works in the promotion of overall health but the most accepted theory is the finding that the extract contains silymarin, a compound which aids in the regulation of several bodily functions. Milk thistle-containing supplements have long been sold and patronized by individual users but to this date, many benefits of using the compound remain unexplained.
What is Milk thistle?
The term Milk thistle usually refers to the plant where Milk thistle extract is derived or the extracted form of the compound itself. The plant is characterized as stout and usually grows for up to five to ten feet. After being crushed, the plant releases a whitish sap which contains Milk thistle extract. The extract is then subjected to laboratory procedures in order to isolate its active ingredients. Silymarin, along with other active ingredients of the Milk Thistle, are then used in the formulation of various health supplements.
What are the benefits of using Milk thistle?
On its own, Milk thistle may not be as effective due to its easy destructibility in the stomach but when taken with compounds that protect it from chemical reactions in the gastrointestinal tract, Milk thistle can provide a lot of benefits to the human body. Some of the benefits of using Milk thistle include the following:
- It heals and Protects The Liver
Liver diseases including hepatitis and cirrhosis are among the most common causes of morbidity worldwide. Several studies conducted for several years have long established the effects of Milk thistle in protecting the liver and improving liver function. A certain study conducted on patients suffering from Hepatitis and Cirrhosis has shown that the subjects manifested improvement in overall liver function after Milk Thistle supplementation. This is believed to be brought about by the high level Silymarin content of the extract.
- It may prevent cancer
Silymarin in Milk thistle is also shown to have anti-cancer properties as it helps eliminate toxic compounds in the body which interfere with normal cell growth. Some other compounds found in the extract are also believed to stop cancer cell replication and shorten cancer cell lifespan. Milk thistle is primarily said to work on liver cancers but its effects on other forms of cancers are not yet fully established.
- It can help treat Diabetes Mellitus
Patients suffering from Diabetes usually suffer from insulin resistance and high cholesterol levels. In a recent study conducted by experts, it was found that Milk thistle supplements help Reduce Cholesterol Levels in the blood and promote glucose uptake by treating insulin resistance.
Some of the claimed benefits of Milk thistle which are not fully understood by experts are the extract’s effect in improving cardiac health and treating mushroom poisoning. Although supplements containing Milk thistle are generally safe for adults, it is absolutely contraindicated for pregnant and lactating women, unless prescribed by a physician.