Do you feel that your body has had its fair share of alcoholic drinks? Is drinking beer your idea of relaxing? Or have you been on a long course of antibiotics lately?
If you think these statements are true and your body needs a thorough detox session, then perhaps you should read more about milk thistle and its wonders.
What is milk thistle?
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that has been around for more than 2000 years. It is a somewhat bitter tasting herb that is used as an organic treatment for liver and pancreas related health conditions. The main component in milk thistle, silymarin, is considered to be a powerhouse of countless benefits. Milk thistle is used to protect the liver, improve digestive function. It also acts as an anti-viral, anti-oxidant and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Initially found in the Mediterranean, milk thistle is now used widely all over the world. As the name suggests, the plant oozes out a milky sap when its leaves are mashed.
Today, we are going to highlight nine ways in which milk thistle can help improve your liver health by detoxifying it and cleansing out harmful toxins from within:
1- Helps improve liver affinity
Milk thistle is primarily recommended to sustain and enhance liver health. It acts as a shielding agent against harmful toxins, especially alcohol. The effects of milk thistle on the liver have been studied for more than three decades with over 200 clinical studies conducted to prove its benefits.
Today scientists agree that milk thistle can help to improve the liver’s function in alcohol-related liver diseases. These are mostly caused due to excessive consumption of alcohol and can result in alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. There is extensive research that milk thistle can indeed improve liver function and even increase survival chances in some patients. The anti-fibrotic properties of milk thistle extract can help to reverse the harmful effects of alcohol. Many doctors in Germany now prescribe milk thistle to treat alcoholic-related liver disease.
Milk thistle also works wonders for non-alcoholic liver disease, which happens due to excessive fat accumulation caused by a high-carb diet and sedentary lifestyle. It also helps to reverse toxic liver injuries and promotes protein synthesis through the development of new liver cells.
2- Keeps away diabetes
Milk thistle’s main compound, silymarin, is used to regulate fasting blood glucose. In fact, when a clinical trial was conducted, scientists found that individuals who took silymarin supplements for 120 days had a drastic improvement in their glycosylated hemoglobin, as compared to those who took a placebo. Milk thistle also helps to promote blood sugar regulation among diabetic patients
Since diabetes is a fast-growing health problem in today’s era, many people are turning towards natural treatment options, like milk thistle, to reduce the progression and side effects of the disease.
3- Keeps cholesterol under control
Many people are only aware of the benefits of milk thistle to protect the liver, but it also helps the liver process cholesterol in a much more efficient manner. This results in lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol in patients.
Recent evidence suggests that silymarin can lower cholesterol levels by enhancing the liver’s ability to metabolize lipids. Since silymarin increases bile production inside the liver, it helps to flush out the extra cholesterol which accumulates in the liver’s bile ducts. Additionally, bile helps to enhance the emulsification, digestion, absorption, and elimination of dietary lipids.
4- Shields against drug overdose and hepatic damage
Milk thistle has a unique chemopreventive and antineoplastic properties apart from having strong antihepatotoxic activity. In one study, milk thistle extract showed positive results in protecting the liver against hepatic damage during a paracetamol overdose case study.
Paracetamol, an over-the-counter drug, can be toxic in high doses and at 4grams per day, it can result in hepatic necrosis. Patients with tuberculosis or HIV infections and alcoholics are in constant danger of paracetamol overdose, and milk thistle can help prevent the hepatic damage to a certain extent.
5- Scavenges Free Radicals
Milk thistle has a strong antioxidant mechanism which is responsible for its restorative and protective properties. These antioxidant mechanisms also help to prevent free radical formation in the body, maintaining redox balance between the cells, scavenging free radicals and decreasing inflammatory responses in the body.
It has three main antioxidant enzymes namely catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase which removes precursors of free radicals within the body and makes a natural detoxifying agent.
6- Protects against toxic chemicals
Milk thistle’s anti-inflammatory properties protect the body against toxic chemicals such as alcohol, heavy metals, mycotoxins, xenobiotics, etc. In fact, cancer patients undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy often resort to milk thistle usage because it helps them deal with the toxic side effects of chemicals more effectively.
Hence, milk thistle is used to normalize liver dysfunction and associated nausea side effects of chemotherapy.
7- Protects the skin from UV radiation damage
While most benefits of milk thistle are seen after consuming it orally, it is also applied topically. Milk thistle has a proven ability to protect the skin from UVB exposure, and it even repairs UV-induced damage in the skin.
8- Keeps away constipation
Silymarin is complexed as a phytosome which helps the liver produce more bile. Bile breaks down fats in the small intestine. This process paves the route for quicker digestion. The extra production of bile also helps lubricate and soften stool, which is a help in relieving constipation.
9- Helps to lose weight
Weight loss is concerned with burning more calories than you consume. If your liver does not efficiently regulate fat metabolism, you are more prone to gain weight, especially around the abdominal area.
Research on the weight loss properties of milk thistle is still going on. But if you want to lose weight, you should use milk thistle as a complementary aid along with other fat burning methods like consuming a low-calorie diet and following a workout regime.
Instead of turning towards fad detox methods you should focus on cleansing and detoxify the body from within. And for a successful detox, the liver is by far the most important organ to consider beginning with. A healthy liver purifies and cleans the blood and is our primary defense against environmental toxins.
So, try milk thistle for its remarkable liver cleansing and detoxifying properties. Both history and today’s medical community are in awe of its antioxidant abilities.
Is milk thistle a much-needed relief from toxic overload? Let us know what you think in the comments below: