7 Surprising Benefits of Milk Thistle

milk thistle benefits

A colorful flowering herb, milk thistle has been part of the world's collection of natural remedies for healing for more than two thousand years. Herbalists commonly recommended it for help in healing issues associated with the liver. This prickly, scruffy plant, which originated at the base of the mountains found in Greece, now grows throughout much of the world.

Milk thistle is most popularly used to alleviate common problems of the liver, but it has proven helpful for other medical issues as well. Silymarin is the active ingredient found in milk thistle, and it is thought to be responsible for all of the good things delivered by milk thistle. Silymarin is extracted from the seeds of this plant and made into a variety of supplemental forms, including liquid extracts, powders, tablets, and capsules.

The healing properties offered by milk thistle benefits span a wide range of capabilities, all of which are beneficial for the human body. Studies have shown that this herb enhances the body's performance to manage cholesterol levels, rid the body of toxins, and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Here is a look at seven of the top benefits of milk thistle delivered through regular inclusion of milk thistle in dietary intake.

1. Natural Healing for the Liver and Gallbladder

The silymarin found in milk thistle promotes natural healing for a variety of serious medical issues related to the liver and gallbladder, including hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, and poor gallbladder functionality. It is thought that milk thistle supplements may be able to help undo the damage created by commonly ingested toxins, including alcohol, acetaminophen, prescriptions, and other types of contaminants.

Researchers believe that silymarin has the ability to detoxify the body's cells, more specifically those found in the liver and  gallbladder, because it helps to reduce the production of cell-damaging free radicals. They also attribute this substance with the ability to prevent toxins from attaching to the liver itself.

Scientists believe that reducing the number of free radicals found in the body helps to detoxify it. Since the liver's job is to detoxify and filter drugs and chemicals from the bloodstream, getting some extra help from milk thistle boosts its ability to keep the body healthy.

2. Natural Benefits for the Heart by Lowering Cholesterol

Cholesterol has earned itself a bad reputation and rightly so. It simply isn't good for heart health. In fact, high levels of cholesterol affect the heart negatively, while increasing the likelihood of having a stroke and developing a whole variety of health issues related to it. A 2006 study published at the US National Library of Medicine found that diabetic patients taking milk thistle as part of their diabetic treatment achieved significantly lower cholesterol levels during a four-month clinical study while also enhancing their glycemic profiles. It seems that milk thistle not only lowers blood cholesterol but also blood sugar levels.

3. Delivers Diabetic Benefits

Improving insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes is one of the common goals in trying to manage this debilitating disease. While more research is needed on humans to back up the evidence provided by animal studies, scientists theorize that milk thistle can be used to reduce the levels of insulin resistance experienced by diabetic individuals. Before including the use of milk thistle supplements to lower your existing levels of blood sugar, consult your endocrinologist. While you are going to need to continue existing medications, it is possible that this type of supplement can help manage your symptoms more easily.

4. Performs as an Antidote and Aids with Indigestion

Did you know that milk thistle performs as an antidote if you accidentally ingest toxic mushrooms called amanita, a type of toxic mushroom? It does, which is handy if you happen to have some milk thistle in your cupboard. More importantly, adding milk thistle into a regimen designed to promote better digestion can help to deliver relief from dyspepsia, a much more common ailment. It isn't possible for it to do so on its own, but combining it with supplements intended for the same purpose should ease the discomfort more quickly.

5. Beautiful Skin

The search for ways to promote a youthful appearance is an age-old one that has taken people down various paths. An animal-based study as recent as 2015 discovered that milk thistle offers healing benefits for inflamed skin, while another study found that this herb offers anti-aging capabilities along with antioxidant benefits for human skin cells. As you may remember, antioxidants help prevent damage to your skin cells by chasing away free radicals. This scenario helps to keep your skin soft and resilient. Obviously, more research needs to be conducted, but these results are promising regarding the potential to deliver gorgeous looking skin.

6. Weight Loss

Can you lose weight if you take supplements containing milk thistle on a daily basis? Apparently, mice can shed a few pounds when this herb is added to their diet. Even more surprising is that the mice in this study were eating a diet designed to make them gain weight. Even though human studies are needed to further explore this concept, it sounds promising for anyone looking to lose a few pounds and get healthier.

7. Stronger Bones

As people age, their bones often get weaker. In fact, bone loss is a common problem in postmenopausal women. One study conducted in 2013 explored the potential of milk thistle in reducing and/or preventing the type of bone loss caused by a drop in estrogen levels. The results were encouraging, and more studies focused on this possibility should help to support the idea that good bone health is within reach as long as milk thistle plays a part in an individual's supplemental routine.

While more research is needed, initial studies show that silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, may be responsible for the beneficial capabilities offered by this herb. As a healthy supplement, milk thistle may offer a boost for traditional methods in healing certain maladies, most promisingly issues associated with the liver. Before you begin any new regimen of health products, you should always speak with your medical professional to identify possible interactions with existing prescriptions.

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