Learn the Herbs: Milk Thistle

Milk thistle, known by the name of Silybum marianum in the scientific community, is primarily characterized by its purple flowers and shiny leaves with prominent white veins. However, it is also packed with compounds that offer several therapeutic benefits. Even though science is still uncovering these properties of milk thistle, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence available to back the claims. The plant has been a part of traditional medicine for over 2,000 years. Herbal experts have long used the extract of milk thistle seeds to offer relief from a range of health problems.

Milk thistle is also known with the common names of blessed milk thistle, Mary thistle, Scotch thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, and variegated thistle.

What Does Milk Thistle Contain? Key Chemical Compounds in Milk Thistle Plant

The main active chemical compound found in milk thistle extract is silymarin. It is a flavonolignan, a type of naturally occurring phenol that contains both flavonoids and polyphenols. It is this complex natural compound silymarin that gives milk thistle its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.

A Brief History of Milk Thistle Use

The records of milk thistle’s use in alternative medicine date back to the 1st century. According to historical evidence, the plant was used by Romans as a natural liver-protector. Greeks used it for snakebites.

The use of milk thistle in traditional medicine continued throughout the Middle Ages, and we could also trace back many of its other uses to this period. In the late 18th century, a renowned British herbalist and physician Nicholas Culpepper documented the potential of milk thistle in relieving liver and spleen issues. This further increased the plant’s popularity. By the end of the 19th century, milk thistle extract was prescribed by physicians in the US for various liver and spleen disorders.

Even though milk thistle was being used in alternative medicine for a very long time, its primary constituent, silymarin, wasn’t isolated until the 1960s.

Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

Science hasn’t fully discovered the amazing benefits of milk thistle plant. However, it has confirmed some of its benefits. Following are some of the science-backed benefits of milk thistle:

It Helps Protect Liver and Improves Its Functioning

The effects of milk thistle on liver are the most studied and investigated area of research. Several research studies have been conducted to evaluate the traditional claims that milk thistle can help protect the liver, reverse liver damage, and also improve its functioning. And the results support the claims.

Scientists believe these benefits of milk thistle come from the antioxidant properties of silymarin. Studies have also found evidence for milk thistle’s potential to reduce liver inflammation and damage caused by various chronic liver diseases.

Milk thistle can also help prevent liver toxicity. It is particularly highly effective against the poisonous death cap mushroom.

It Can Help Prevent (Or Slow Down) Neurodegeneration

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of milk thistle also make it good for the brain. According to research, the plant can potentially have neuroprotective properties and can help prevent cognitive decline.

In addition to helping with age-related decline in mental function, milk thistle can also help with neurodegeneration caused by brain ailments. Some animal studies have found the plant to be effective in reducing amyloid plaques in the brain affected by Alzheimer’s.

The Final Word

Milk thistle is a powerful natural tonic for the liver. But, it can also offer several other health benefits. In addition to the benefits discussed above, milk thistle is also traditionally believed to help with menstrual irregularities. It has also been historically used to increase breast milk production. There is also some evidence that the antioxidant properties of the plant may make it effective against some autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis. However, more research is needed to establish this claim.

All in all, milk thistle is an incredible herb with powerful protecting and healing properties and over 2,000 years of usage history to validate them. You can get your hands on this amazing herb from Secrets of the Tribe. We have 100% organic milk thistle tincture and capsules.


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