Milk Thistle: Benefits and Side Effects

Many people are curious about the benefits of milk thistle, for the informed, milk thistle is just another prickly weeds. Milk thistle has many marvelous healing properties, especially when it comes to detoxifying our body, particularly the liver. Milk thistle can prevent or treat many health issues related to:

1. Liver

Milk thistle contains bioflavonoids that can protect our liver and the plant has been used extensively in Asia as well as European countries for pharmaceutical material to treat liver problems. Sylmarin found in milk thistle contains silychristin. silydianin and silibin. A number of clinical studies support that silymarin has protective properties on our liver by shielding it against common toxins such as carbon tetrachloride, acetaminophen and alcohol. Silymarin can enhance cell membranes in liver, which can prevent toxin from getting through and damaging the cell interior. The bioflavanoid compounds in milk thistle can effectively boost cellular growth by stimulating protein synthesis. The milk thistle seeds contain betaine hydrochloride that may have a contribution in protecting the liver.

2. Gallbladder and Gallstones

The silymarin found in milk thistle can increase the bile solubility, which promote its flow. This can be very helpful when you want to prevent or treat gall stones. If the bile has an improved flow, it is less likely for the gallstone to form. Researches prove that regular usage of milk thistle can cause a noticeable reduction of cholesterol level in the bile.

3. Obesity

Not many people understand the role of liver in weight reduction. Improving liver function is often neglected in nearly all weight loss programs. Liver is important for metabolizing the fat and purifying the blood. As silymarin boosts the liver action, fat will be metabolized faster and it is far easier for us to lose weight.

4. Hormone-Related Diseases

Breast tumor, for example, is suspected to be significantly influenced by the estrogen level in women’s body. Based on some researches, healthy liver can filter bad forms of estrogen, as the result silymarin can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. In women, estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating, which increase the probability of various types of cancer in ovaries and uterus. Milk thistle can maintain hormonal balance, which can prevent hormone-related diseases.

5. Diabetes Complications

According to studies, silymarin can inhibit aldose reductase. This enzyme has an important role in sugar deposition on the eyes of people with diabetes, which can prevent eye damages. Milk thstle can effectively scavenge free radicals and reduce sugar level in the eyes.

6. Skin

As the liver can purify our blood, the effect will be felt in our skin. Skin is the largest organ in our body and an important tool for detoxification. Psoriasis is suspected to happen due to the presence of certain toxins in our bloodstream. There are some evidences that indicate the link between abnormal liver functions and the risk of psoriasis. Unexplained itchiness may also be caused by the release of blood toxins through the skin.

7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There are many possible causes of chronic fatigue syndrome. Anxiety and depressions are psychological factors that cause many physiological diseases. Researches found that a poorly functioning liver may contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome. A damaged liver can increase the chance of infection and the higher level of toxins in our bloodstream.

8. Unhealthy Lifestyle

It is common for modern people to consume dishes that are high in cholesterol, protein and fat. Unlike our great grandparents, we are exposed more to toxins, radiation, pollutants and medications. We are very much stressed and seldom exercise. Unhealthy lifestyle can cause serious health problems, including damaged liver. You can take care of your health by taking milk thistle regularly, as it can have a huge impact on your health and natural healing. To get your body protected, you should have a healthy liver.

Milk Thistle Side Effects

After reading about many benefits of milk thistle, you could be curious whether it has any side effect. When dealing with alternative medicine, it is sensible to research about the side effects before trying one. Side effects are common for any medication, including OTC and prescription drugs. They usually come with a long list of possible health issues that may occur. Fortunately, there are only a few concerns related to this useful herb.

The most common side effect of milk thistle is stomach upset, including loss of appetite, bloating, diarrhea. heartburn and indigestion. In rare cases, milk thistle can cause allergic reactions, including swelling, rash, hives, itching and breathing problems. Some individuals may experience, impotence, weakness, lethargy or insomnia, however, they are exceptionally rare.

Should they occur; you should discontinue the treatment temporarily for about two days. Additionally, if you bought a milk thistle supplement with poor quality, the consequence can be more serious due to the possibility of chemical contamination. If the effect is serious, find a medical help immediately and to prevent unexpected problems, only buy products from reputable manufacturers.

Milk thistle, like many other herbal remedies are not subjected to the same rigorous evaluation as pharmaceutical drugs and you should be aware that milk thistle hasn’t been approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for any treatment. Side effects are commonly known only from historical records, instead of laboratory testing.

Like some herbs, milk thistle contains trace compounds that can interfere with our hormone, especially estrogen. Caution is advised, although there are no conclusive evidences that milk thistle can impair hormonal balance. In theory, milk thistle may worsen:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Impotence
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids

Drug Interactions

Milk thistle may interact with OTC and prescription drugs, including other medicinal herbs. There are no researches that study the interaction between milk thistle and prescription drugs. Consult your doctor, whether you should use milk thistle when you take these prescription drugs:

  • Antipsychotics (Fluphenazine, Promethazine, Haloperidol, Chlorpromazine)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Anticoagulants (Plavix, Coumadin)
  • Anxiolytics (Ativan, Xanax, Valium)
  • Statins (Mevacor, Altocor)
Comments 13
  1. This article appeared to be somewhat commercialized. But I found benefit in it that I had not seen in others so far. That is the list of Drug Interactions. I appreciated that. It also does confirm what I was seeing in others is that it is beneficial in weight loss. Thank you!

  2. I found this information very important, also it gave a lot more information which also included the med interactions.

  3. Good article. It confirms what my wife and I suspected, that a daily supplement of milk thistle is generally beneficial and in our case worth the investment in our health. It has also made me aware of some of the possible side effects.
    Can any suggest a high quality maker of milk thistle supplement? We are currently taking Spring Valley 1000mg concentrated extract softgels.

  4. Is there anything I can do while taking Milk Thistle to prevent diarrhoea? This is the only side effect that I cannot handle.

  5. I have been having breast tenderness since a few days after taking it. It feels like my milk is coming in. I've had 2 kids so I know what it feels like for breast milk to fill inside the beast. Milk thistle helped me keep my milk up but now I'm past that time in my life. I’ve been using it for an Ek to help cleanse my liver. Wondering if this is like estrogen die of and to keep taking it or to stop. I'm leaning towards stopping.

  6. I am interested in the dosage for a person with no ailments, except arthritis, but would like to stay on top of my health. The dosage was never mentioned. Is 1000mg too much?

  7. Thanks very informative. I am taking something for nail fungus and this was recommended to help balance out the side effects.

  8. Thank you, it’s very informative. If you have fibroids what can you take along with it or what alternative should you use?

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