Diet and Nutrition

What Are the Health Benefits of Milk Thistle?

What Are the Health Benefits of Milk Thistle?

Key Takeaways

  • Milk thistle is a native plant of Europe.
  • Milk thistle can be used to treat different medical conditions.

Milk thistle is a native plant of Europe and an integral part of the medicine for gall bladder and liver disorders. The active ingredients in this herb are flavanoid and silymarin, which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Some of the common uses of the herb include:

  • Treatment of liver problems, like jaundice, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and gall bladder problems
  • Reducing levels of cholesterol
  • Treatment of type 2 diabetes
  • Prevent the growth of cancer cells in certain type of cancers

There is no substantial evidence to support the use of this herb in any of the above-mentioned conditions. However, it has always been a part of the folk methodologies of treatment. Some of the earlier studies indicated the possible use of this herb in treating liver disorders due to alcohol abuse, and exposure to industrial toxins like xylene and toluene.

Some studies have shown that milk thistle, when used with other traditional treatment methods, helps in reducing blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. As it reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol, it indirectly helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Milk thistle can be used for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Malaria
  • Depression
  • Uterine complaints
  • Allergy
  • Spleen disorders

Milk thistle can be combined with other herbs or vegetables in a salad, or used as a supplement orally. Experts are of the opinion that it can be used for about three to four years without any major concerns. Along with the benefits that it offers, it has few side effects as well. Some of the common side effects reported with its use include diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and gas. Those who are allergic to ragweeds may develop rashes on the skin and other serious reactions. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with fibroid tumors, endometriosis, and uterine and ovarian cancers should avoid using this herb. Milk thistle may also reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.