Milk Thistle Uses & Benefits

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:26 May 2016 

Milk thistle has been used medicinally for centuries and modern research confirms that its long-held reputation as a liver and gall bladder tonic is well deserved. Here’s everything you need to know about our favourite liver herb.


Historical Uses

Milk thistle has a long history of use as a medicinal and edible plant. As far back as the 1st century AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote that it improved bile flow. The ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides and the philosopher Theophrastus both mentioned its medicinal value in their writing and 17th century English herbalist Nicolas Culpeper wrote of it as being effective for clearing away liver obstructions.



Detoxification Support & Liver Protection

Milk thistle supports detoxification and other aspects of liver function, aids the emulsification of fats in the digestive system, and may help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as pain and poor appetite. Its therapeutic actions are attributed to a group of constituents that are collectively known as Silymarin.

Silymarin is a potent antioxidant that helps protect liver cell membranes from the potentially harmful effects of toxins and free radical activity. As well as protecting the liver, milk thistle may help to rebuild it after it has been damaged. The active constituent Silymarin has the ability to stimulate protein synthesis in the liver, which supports its natural regeneration capacity. This initiates an increased production of new liver cells to replace old and injured cells.


How much should I take?

To support the health and functioning of your hard working liver, milk thistle can be taken as a single herb or in combination with others. When taken alone, doses of 10-20,000 mg per day are recommended for adults. When combined with other liver protecting and detoxifying herbs (such as schizandra), lower doses may be suitable.