Milk thistle is a herb that’s been given credit for helping a lot of maladies people might have. It’s been used for more than 2,000 years, originally growing in the Mediterranean area, now grown in many areas around the world, including the United States.
Milk thistle goes by many names; some of them are: Bull thistle, heal thistle, holy thistle, kanger, kocakavkas, kuub, lady’s thistle, natursilum, pig leaves, and wild artichoke. The main active ingredient is called silymarin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells, as well as protect the liver from toxins.
If one believes everything they’ve read, milk thistle is a cure-all for many things. Here’s a list of some of those things:
- Liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis C
- Treatment and prevention of gallstones
- Mushroom toxicity (milk thistle is used in many emergency rooms to try to fight mushroom poisoning)
- High cholesterol
- Used as a post (oral steroid) cycle therapy for body builders
- Reducing insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis
- Used in many products claiming to reduce the effects of a hangover
- Used by individuals withdrawing from opiates
- Used by those taking oral steroids
- Reducing liver damaging effects of chemotherapeutic drugs
- Dyspepsia (upset stomach)
- Menopausal symptoms
Milk thistle is one supplement that has had some testing done as far as one of its major uses, that as an agent for fighting cancer. In one particular test, milk thistle was used for around 50 children to see if it would allow them to take greater doses of chemotherapy without side effects. The study, peer-reviewed by the American Cancer Society, showed that milk thistle helped reduce inflammation of the liver as well as removed the need of many to reduce the levels of chemotherapy. They also found that milk thistle didn’t reduce the effects of chemotherapy, and was safe to take.
Milk thistle might not be quite a miracle drug, but it’s one of the more respected herbal alternatives on the market.