Health Benefits of Milk Thistle
21 June, 2018

Herbs are so much part of our everyday lives we probably don’t realise how much we use them. Equally, we don’t realise how much they can help us so we wanted to give you more information on these valuable plants.

Herbal medicine is ancient wisdom that has been used throughout the world over the centuries. Herbal preparations are made directly from the plant, and use different parts from leaves, flowers, seeds, rhizomes through to roots. Depending on the herb they can come in tincture, paste, tablets or teas.

Our everyday use of herbs includes

  • Cooking
  • Medicine
  • Disinfectant
  • Perfume

Like all medicine, herbs do require specialist knowledge to ensure they are used correctly. We are providing you with an overview of the more commonly known herbs. Our blog will identify the traditional associations relating to each herb. The EFSA do not issue any supported claims for herbs.

Milk Thistle

This herb is a classic example of truly traditional medicine; its use is documented as early as 40 AD! It is part of the asteraceae plant family. The official name is Silybum Marianum. It produces a milky liquid when its leaves are crushed, hence the name.

You may well recognise Milk Thistle and associate it with supporting the liver. This is because all the traditional writing relate milk thistle to supporting the liver.

The liver

Our liver is a true workhorse within the body and it is responsible for so many functions including:

  • Cleansing our blood
  • Eliminating harmful substances
  • Releasing glucose to give us energy
  • Producing bile so that we can absorb fats effectively and have a healthy digestive system
  • Supporting hormone production
  • Detoxification
  • Easing mucous membranes

Milk thistle is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties so, like many other antioxidants, it is a great support to your body. Remember that antioxidants help fight damaging free radicals that we can be exposed to on a daily basis.

Besides all these functions the liver is also closely associated with the kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas and intestines. Take good care of your liver and you will take steps to prevent potential kidney or gallstones.

Best Food Sources

Herbs don’t always taste great and this is one of them! Typically it is taken in tablet or tincture form rather than as a food.

Who needs to support their liver?

The liver is our key detoxification organ in the body. It will need support if you:

  • Have eaten too much rich food or have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. You know you get that sluggish lethargic feeling? This is when your liver is working hard to clean out your system.
  • Take medication as part of your daily regime.
  • Consume alcohol regularly.
  • Use antibiotics.
  • Are exposed to pollution, toxic environments or heavy metals regularly.
  • Have had liver problems and need to heal this precious organ.
  • Feel the need to fight free radicals.
  • Want to slow down the ageing process. Ageing is not just apparent in how we look but also how our organs perform. Having a healthy internal system is just as important to looking young as good skin.
  • Are Diabetic. Research has indicated that milk thistle has a positive impact in maintaining fasting blood glucose and insulin levels.
  • Are susceptible to kidney stones or gallstones.
  • Have raised cholesterol levels. This is still under review but there are suggestions that milk thistle can help reduce our cholesterol levels. This would be achieved by decreasing inflammation in the body.

Remember that lowering cholesterol helps us maintain a healthier heart making us less vulnerable to heart problems.

Partners

One of the best detox partners to support your liver is drinking plenty of water. Our bodies are comprised of 60–70% water and this is used for many different purposes. Water needs to be replenished to allow your body to work most efficiently and therefore, help you stay well. Drink approximately 1.5 litres a day of pure water.

The other important support for your liver is a healthy diet. We all have our days of eating on the move or just indulging in all the naughty stuff. Can you think of one of these days?

If you can, imagine a big mixing bowl and put all the foods and drinks you have consumed into that bowl. Chances are it is not an appealing recipe!  When I think of it like that, I wouldn’t ask my body to process all those unlikely combinations. I can see it would be hard work, so please be gentle on your body and help your liver!

Contraindications

This is generally a herb that is safe for everyday use. However, it can induce a slight laxative action. It should also be noted that it can interact with medications for allergies, anxiety and blood thinning. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

This is the third entry in our herb series and we hope you will continue to enjoy finding out more about these varied and valuable additions to our health care.

 

 

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