Your favorite flower may be roses or lilies or something equally pretty. Mine is the milk thistle. It's not the most beautiful flower and is painful to step on but the milk thistle is still a great flower to know. While my love for it has little to do with the herbal qualities it possesses, that's exactly what we're going to discuss.
You've probably never heard milk is great for the liver. Well it's not, but milk thistle is. The plant, also called "blessed thistle", "Saint Mary's thistle" or "Scotch thistle", has been a long-standing medicinal treatment in Europe and Asia. There's clinical trials and studies too that support its uses in today's medicine.
The active ingredient in Milk Thistle is silymarin, which has been the interest of many different studies concerning the liver. It's a popular supplement for regular detox for when you feel the need to reset your body and flush out the toxins. While there's no evidence on whether detoxing actually helps, the thistle and silymarin does have a reputation to induce frequent trips to the bathroom, probably due to it messing around with the liver. And that's what most people take it for - flushing themselves out.
Silybin vs. Silymarin
Silybin (or Silybinin) isn't just a weird word, it's a form of silymarin that's been paired with a phospholipid to make it easier for the body to absorb. There are many supplements that get this treatment, like Ginko biloba
and turmeric. The thytosomal silybin
reaches the liver faster and takes a lower dose to be effective than regular silymarin. Either ingredient could be listed on a supplement label but both mean Milk Thistle.
The thistle is one of the top herbal treatments for liver disease. Whether it's caused by medication, drugs, alcohol or viral, liver inflammation was effectively treated by milk thistle in various reports and studies
. The weed also helped improve function. Thistle has been studied to have hepatoprotective properties, a ten-dollar word that means it could keep your liver healthy before it needs fixing.
Ok so we're not talking arsenic poisoning but more food-grade poisoning. Still deadly, especially when it deals with the Amanita phalloides, otherwise known as the Death cap mushroom. Dr. Todd Mitchell has successfully used Silybinin
to fight liver toxicity due to these deadly fungi. Twice. In fact, this is why Milk Thistle is such a popular treatment across the pond in Europe and Asia. Maybe there is more to that "detoxing".
So how do you get this wonder weed? Well, ingestion is the way to go since we're dealing with the liver. Many supplements exist to offer Milk Thistle in different forms like:
Milk Thistle is pretty safe and it's not a common allergy to have. If you can't get along with daisies or kiwis, you might want to stir clear but everyone else should be fine. It's also not very toxic, with a very high dose needed for concern. That said, there's always side-effects and a chance for bad reactions. It is a diuretic after all. Look out for:
DiarrheaStomach PainBloatingSkin Reactions like Rash or HivesHeartburnVomiting
While uncommon, these reactions should be kept in mind if you're taking a thistle supplement. It's also important to keep hydrated since it usually makes you hit the bathroom a bit. There's not much study on Milk Thistle and pregnancy so you might want to hold off on that.
So Who Should Be Taking Milk Thistle?
Take to your doctor. If you're concerned about your liver, it might be a good alternative to heavier medication and your healthcare provider can help you make that decision. If you're on prescription medication, Milk Thistle could greatly alter the way your body absorbs it so be sure to check first. This includes antidepressants, heart drugs, antibiotics and hormones. The good news is that if you really feel like having that detox weekend with the girls and you're healthy, you should be pretty safe with this flower.
The reason I like Milk Thistle? It's in my heritage. I know, pretty boring right? Hit me up with your thoughts on today's blog and your favorite flower on our Facebook
pages. Tune in next week for more health related news!