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Milk thistle

1. What is Milk thistle ?

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum L), is an annual plant derived from the Asteraceae family. It is native to Mediterranean regions of Europe, North Africa and Middle East.

The name "milk thistle" derives from two features of the leaves: they are mottled with splashes of white and they contain a milky sap.


2. What are the clinical implication of Milk thistle?

The extract acts in a hepatoprotective manner and stimulates the regeneration of liver cells in patients with chronic inflammatory liver conditions and hepatic cirrhosis caused by alcohol, drugs or toxins.


It is also used for treatment of dyspeptic complaints and gallstones. Traditionally, it is used for treatment of amenorrhoea, constipation, diabetes, hay fever, uterine haemorrhages and varicose veins.


Silymarin, the active ingredient found in seeds of milk thistle and which has been used for more than 2000 years as a natural remedy for treating hepatitis and cirrhosis and to protect liver from toxic substances. Silymarin acts by anti-oxidative, anti-lipid peroxidative, anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory, membrane stabilizing, immunomodulatory and liver regenerating mechanisms in experimental liver diseases. Milk thistle can be accepted as safe herbal products since no health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with proper administration of designed therapeutic dosages.