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Information on Milk Thistle including the benefits and uses of using Milk Thistle. Your Health are located in Australia are a group of alternative / holistic doctors and use Milk Thistle as part of a holistic approach to health.
Milk Thistle
Botanical name

Also known as St. Mary's Thistle, the botanical name is Silybum marianum


Milk Thistle seed is a well-regarded liver protectant that also restores the liver's ability to detoxify harmful substances. The liver-protecting and liver-repairing functions are due to two main actions: antioxidant and protein-restoring activities. The antioxidant activity of silymarin, the active constituent, is ten times more powerful than vitamin E. Silymarin prevents toxic and foreign substances from penetrating liver cells by stabilizing the outer membrane of liver cells. The active constituents displace toxins by binding to proteins and receptors on the cell membrane. Silymarin also stimulates protein synthesis so that new liver cells can grow and damaged liver cells can be replaced. Because silymarin acts mainly on the liver and kidneys, it is an effective antidote against poisonous substances that accumulate in the liver.

Conditions commonly used for

Extensive research conducted over the past 30 years shows Milk Thistle extract improves liver dysfunction in patients with acute and chronic hepatitis A, B and C, chronic alcoholic liver disease and fatty liver caused by chemical toxin damage. Silymarin has been shown to lower the death rate of alcoholic patients over a two to four year period.

  • Liver and gallbladder disease, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, gallstones and fatty liver
  • Liver damage due to indulgence in alcohol, drugs, fatty food and exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Skin disease, including eczema and psoriasis
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy
Common dosage range
  • Milk thistle is prepared as a concentrated extract of standardized dried herb (70% to 80%, or approximately 140 mg silymarin). Silymarin must be concentrated because it is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Recommended dosage ranges from 200 to 400 mg silymarin per day.
Cautions, Contraindications and Side Effects

  • Milk thistle is a safe and well-tolerated herb. It may be taken long-term and may reduce the toxic side-effects of many prescription drugs.
  • Milk thistle occasionally has a mild laxative effect due to increased bile flow and secretion.
  • An alcoholic extract is inappropriate for use in alcoholic liver disease.
Links & Other Information

It is not within the scope of the YourHealth website to provide comprehensive information on documented or potential herb-drug interactions. Please seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner or click on the following links for more information.

Contact YourHealth for referenced material regarding this herb, any conditions or therapies mentioned.

A Medical Practitioner specialising in Integrative Medicine, a qualified Nutritionist or Naturopath will be well trained in the use of nutrients, including their proper dosage, contraindications and potential drug interactions. Although many herbal remedies are available over the counter, self-prescribing is not recommended except for minor ailments, and best results will be obtained by seeking the advice of a qualified herbal medicine practitioner. Any plant substance, even those that are used as foods, can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

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