Milk thistle extract is derived from the seeds of the milk thistle plant. Numerous in depth research and studies done on this seed extract have shown that the group of active flavanolignan (flavanoid-lignan) constituents that only the seed shell of the plant contains has numerous properties that can protect and regenerate the liver. These flavanolignan constituents, referred to simply as silymarin, havealso been found to have potent antioxidant effects. In fact, the properties of the milk thistle seed extract have been written about in the ancient times, even before
studies and research have been done.
About the Milk Thistle Plant
The milk thistle extract is derived from the seed shell of the milk thistle plant. The milk thistle plant is one of the flowering plants of the popular daisy family. This plant is native to the Mediterranean parts of Europe, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa. The name of this plant came from the feature of its leaves, as these have prominent white colored splashes. In historic times, these milky white bands have been believed to be Mother Mary’s Milk. This is also the reason why the milk thistle plant is also known as St. Mary’s thistle.
How the Extract Works
The studies and the research done on the milk thistle extract have shown that it can effectively prevent damages to the liver. It has also been found to significantly stimulate the growth of new liver cells that will be used by the body to replace cells that have been damaged. Since the liver is one of the organs in the body that works the hardest, the overall health of a person largely depends on having a healthy and properly functioning liver.
Silymarin, which is the group of active flavanolignan constituents that milk thistle extract contains, has the ability to improve the functions of the liver. Since the liver is the organ responsible for filtering the blood and detoxifying poisons such as alcohol, pollutants, chemicals, and nicotine, silymarin contributes to the
treatment of many liver-related disorders.
Liver Related Benefits of Taking Extracts of the Milk Thistle Plant
For many centuries, the milk thistle extract has been widely used and largely recognized as “liver tonics.” The extracts derived from the seed shell of the milk thistle plant have been reported in numerous studies to have powerful liver protective effects. In addition to protecting the liver, these extracts have also shown great potential to significantly improve the functions of the liver. It is commonly used as a treatment for liver cirrhosis, toxin-induced liver damage, gallbladder disorders, death cap mushroom poisoning, and chronic hepatitis.
Some of the most common liver related uses and benefits of taking milk thistle extract include but are not limited to the following:
- Acute viral hepatitis
- Alcohol and drug induced liver damage
- Alcoholic cirrhosis
- Chronic active hepatitis
- Environmental toxins and sensitivities
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Hepatic toxicity resulting from use of steroids
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
- Other medical conditions that requires hepatotoxic medication use
- Regular, moderate, and heavy alcoholic use
Non Liver Related Benefits of Talking Milk Thistle Extract
While the milk thistle extract has been found to be very effective in protecting and regenerating the liver, as well as improving the functions of this hard working organ, the extracts derived from the seed shell of the milk thistle plant have also shown great benefits that are non liver related. Some of the non liver related
benefits that one will be able to enjoy when taking the milk thistle seed extract include but are not limited to the following:
- Lower levels of cholesterol, which is very beneficial to the heart
- Reduced growth of cancer cells especially breast cancer cells, lung cancer cells, colon cancer cells, prostate cancer cells, cervical cancer cells, and renal cancer cells
- Improved levels of blood sugar
- Reduced cell damage resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatments
- Reduced cases of hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause
- Improved digestion and intestinal functions
Aside from these benefits, taking the milk thistle extract can also help alleviate the signs and indications of aging, as it contains potent anti-aging properties. This extract from the milk thistle plant also functions as a great therapeutic agent that helps prevent the Alzheimer’s disease. Supplements that make use of this extract as its primary ingredient can also be useful against certain types of skin diseases. Its powerful antioxidative properties also help eliminate and get rid of free radicals. The extracts from milk thistle seed shell also reduce the serious
effects of deathcap mushroom poisoning.
Important Considerations before Taking Milk Thistle Seed Extract
Supplements that make use of the milk thistle extract as its main ingredient are safe to consume as long as it is taken in proper and usual dosages. However, it is important that before taking milk thistle seed extract products or the raw extract itself, consumers should first consult with their primary care giver. This is because consumption of these milk thistle seed extract products can result inside effects. The side effects that have been reported with its use include nausea, gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, and increased stools. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also avoid taking this extract
or consuming products that make use of the extract as its primary ingredient.