Thursday, May 15, 2008

Milk Thistle

The flowered plant milk thistle is native to the Meditteranean region of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It has been known by traditional herbalists from the East to alleviate or cure chronic liver disease such as liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and gallbladder dysfunction. Recently several studies have been conducted by Western scientists and physicians.

Milk thistle has pink or purple, and rarely white, flowers. There are two species: Silybum eburneum, known as the silver milk thistle, elephant thistle, or ivory Thistle and the Silybum marianum, also known as the blessed milk thistle, which has a large number of other common names, such as variegated thistle.

The active compound in milk thistle is silymarin, a mixture of at least four closely related flavonolignans, mostly silybin. Silymarin dosage is typically in the amount ranging from 200 mg -500 mg per day. Scientific research has been unevenly designed since the 1970s. Often studies find that milk thistle is not effective in low dosages but is effective in high dosages. Claims include that it lowers LDL cholesterol, reduces insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis, reduces the growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical and prostate cancers, and alleviates hangovers. In May 2008, Ramasamy and Agarwal showed that it can interfere with cell cycle regulators in growth and apoptosis and can be used in an anit-metastatic manner.

The flavonolignans that comprise silymarin are silichristin (SC), silidianin (SD), silibinin (SBN), and isosilibinin (IS). In May 2008, Wallace et al. found that these flavolignans inhibit the oxidation of low-densityf lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol.

In April 2008, Tsai et al. showed that silymarin may have the potential to increase the resolution of the carbon tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis in rats.

More in foramtion on milk thistle´s health benefits can be found on

Disclaimer: None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional, such as a physician.

My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on,, and If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.

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