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Milk Thistle: Benefits and Side Effects

Milk Thistle: Benefits and Side Effects

Milk Thistle

Overview

Milk thistles are herbs that grow in nature and it is known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. It can help balance your blood sugar levels which will help people who are suffering from type 2 diabetes and it can also help prevent cancer. It gives amazing support to your liver by cleansing and detoxifying your liver and helping it rejuvenate. Your body starts to cleanse itself and the cells start a purge when you start taking it. Milk thistle is also known to give you good skin.

Holy thistle and Mary thistle are the other names of milk thistle. It can treat all the health problems which are related to the liver. People who are suffering from cholesterol and type 2 diabetes also get benefitted from using this herb. Silymarin is an active ingredient present in this plant and it has the properties of antioxidants. Milk thistle can be found in the following forms. These forms are

  • Oral capsule
  • Tablet
  • Powder
  • Liquid extract

This medicinal plant can be found in the above forms and used to treat mainly for problems related to the liver. But it has been observed in research that milk thistle has the capability of balancing the blood sugar levels in the people who are suffering from type 2 diabetes.

What is milk thistle?

Milk thistle comes from the plant’s family and it has its roots in Mediterranean countries and people used to use the herb to make natural remedies.

Cirrhosis, hepatitis, jaundice, and gallbladder disorders can be treated with the different parts of this herb. The following are the other potential benefits of this medicinal plant. These potential benefits include

  • Lowering the levels of cholesterol
  • Balancing the levels of blood sugar

What are the health Benefits of Milk thistle?

There can be a variety of health benefits associated with this plant and these points are very important to keep in mind. These health benefits include

  • Support liver health
  • Promotes skin health
  • Lowering the cholesterol levels
  • Supports weight loss
  • Reduces insulin resistance
  • Ease the symptoms of allergic asthma
  • Limits the spread of cancer
  • Promotes bone health
  • Improves cognition
  • Improves the function of the immune system

Support liver health

Milk thistle is known to treat the health disorders related to the liver. It has been observed in a study that including this herb in a diet reduced the liver damage in mice. There is no valid evidence to prove this point and therefore more research is needed to be done whether it gives the same health benefits to the human.

It gives amazing support to your liver by cleansing and detoxifying your liver and helping it rejuvenate. It is possible due to an active ingredient present in the milk thistle and that is known as silymarin. It stops the production of free radicals by acting as an anti-oxidant. Researchers identified that this plant can treat liver problems due to its detoxifying effect.

However, more research is needed to be done and that is why still it is not a primary solution to the people who are suffering from liver problems.

Promotes skin health

Milk thistle is also known to promote good skin health. It has been observed in research that this herb managed the symptoms of inflammatory skin condition in mice.

Another study reveals that it promotes skin health to the people due to its properties of anti-oxidant and anti-aging effects. Still, more research needed to be done in order to find out the exact health benefits when it applied to the human skin.

Lowering the cholesterol levels

It has been observed in research that this herbal remedy has the capability of reducing the cholesterol levels. When a person has high levels of cholesterol it leads to several health problems including heart diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

Supports weight loss

Another study revealed that this herb caused weight loss in mice and it is due to an active ingredient present in the milk thistle and that is known as silymarin. It is really important for the people who are looking for alternatives to lose weight or the people who are suffering from the obesity problem.

Researchers need to find out whether it offers the same benefits to humans and due to this reason, it is advised to have a word with your physician before you would like to use it for treating your problem.

Reduces insulin resistance

It has been observed in research conducted on mice revealed that the extract of its plant reduced insulin resistance. It can help balance the blood sugar levels which will help people who are suffering from type 2 diabetes and this point lacks evidence. However, more research is needed to be done whether it can reduce insulin resistance and balance the blood sugar levels.

Ease the symptoms of allergic asthma

Silymarin is an active ingredient present in this plant that can help to reduce inflammation. It has been observed in research that the active ingredient in this plant can fight inflammation in the airways of mice which is suffering from the symptoms of allergic asthma.

More research should be done in order to see whether it gives the same benefits to humans who are suffering from the symptoms of allergic asthma.

Limits the spread of cancer

This herbal plant can also help prevent cancer and also put an end to the spread of certain types of cancer. It has been observed in research that the extract of this herb inhibited the growth of cancerous cells in colorectal cancer. Researchers need to conduct more experiments to prove this point whether this plant has the capability to fight cancer.

Promotes bone health

This medicinal plant gives amazing support to your bone health. It has been observed in research that the extract of this plant can also help prevent bone loss. People who are suffering from bone loss due to estrogen are advised to use this herb.

Improves Cognition

It has been observed in research that it can manage oxidative stress, which is the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It improves cognition and treats the mental health problems that can affect the mind.

Improves the function of the immune system

Milk thistle is also known to improve the function of a human immune system and fight against infection. It has been observed in research that the extraction of this medicinal plant improves the function of the immunity system when consumed by the animals.

See Also
Coronary Heart Disease

How to use milk thistle?

Milk thistle is considered as an energy boosting supplement and it is available in all the health stores. Intake of this supplement is not known, so it is advised to read the dosage on the bottle or the packaging. This medicinal plant is also available as a tea and it is recommended to drink six cups a day.

What are the possible side effects of Milk thistle?

If it is good definitely there will be bad. Even though it is a natural remedy that grows in nature, it has its potential side effects. The following are the possible side effects of this herb. These side effects include

  • Pain in the head
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Unable to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse or sexual dysfunction

If you are experiencing the above side effects caused by the milk thistle, then it is advised to talk with your physician about what’s going on and they can review with you about your condition and help you to determine what options are best for you. People who are allergic to

  • Ragweed
  • Daisies
  • Artichokes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Plants in the aster family

People who are allergic to the above plants are advised not to take milk thistle to treat the health problems. People who want to try this herb even after knowing the allergic reactions and its side effects should have a word with their physician or primary care provider. Because a discussion with your health care provider may help determine which option would be best for you. People who are suffering from the below cancers are not advised to take milk thistle. These cancers include

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine fibroids or endometriosis

Interactions

Milk thistle can interact with the following drugs. It is advised to not take mil thistle when you are taking the below medications. These medications include

Cytochrome P450 2C9 substrates

Milk thistle may negatively interact with the drugs related to these substrates. Examples of these drugs include

  • Valium
  • Coumadin
  • Jantoven

Diabetes medications

Even though milk thistle has the capability of balancing the blood sugar levels which will help people who are suffering from type 2 diabetes, it is not advised to take this herb when you are taking diabetic medications due to its additive effects.

Metronidazole (Flagyl)

Metronidazole is an antibiotic drug and taking milk thistle while using this drug may reduce medication effectiveness.

Sirolimus (Rapamune)

Sirolimus is an immunosuppressant and it is not recommended to use milk thistle while you are on this medication. It may change the way your body processes the medication.

Conclusion

Even though Milk thistle is known to have the properties of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants. More research on humans is needed to confirm its effects. People who want to try this herb even after knowing everything about it like its side effects and interactions should have a word with their physician or primary care provider. Because a discussion with your health care provider may help determine which option would be best for your problem.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27387273
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26345246
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17072885
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27387273
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22842463
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5138577/
  7. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2013/919374/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25613505
  9. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00071668.2015.1121537?journalCode=cbps20
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