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7 Benefits and Side Effects of Milk Thistle (4 Contraindications to be Aware of) [Updated Dec/2022]

Milk thistle is an herbal remedy derived from the milk thistle plant, also known as Silybum marianum.

This prickly plant has distinctive purple flowers and white veins, which traditional stories say were caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk falling onto its leaves.

Milk thistle is a kind of herb belonging to the genus Silybum, also known as milk thistle and milk thistle. Its flowers are reddish purple and have been used as medicinal (seed or fruit parts) for more than 2,000 years. “Patron saint of the liver”

Among them, silymarin fat-soluble compound extract is the main component of current milk thistle health care preparations (Silybin is the most active). In addition to the most common liver-protecting effects (resolve hangovers, hepatitis, and toxin elimination), it also has potential Anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, immune regulation, anti-fibrosis, anti-hyperglycemia, anti-virus and other effects.

What are the Proven Benefits of Milk Thistle (Silymarin)?

  1. Good for blood lipid regulation

Dyslipidemia is a metabolic disorder, which is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular events such as coronary heart disease, cerebral ischemia, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Dyslipidemia with proper treatment can reduce the risk of heart disease within 5 years About 30%.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (Meta-analysis, including 10 randomized controlled trials) showed that supplementation with milk thistle extract (silymarin/Silymarin) can reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) lipoprotein cholesterol) and triglyceride (triglyceride), and increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol) . Note 1

In addition, a subgroup analysis according to the type of intervention showed that silymarin combined with other treatments resulted in greater improvements in LDL‐C and TC concentrations than silymarin alone.

*Conclusion: Milk thistle extract (Silymarin/Silymarin) can have a beneficial effect on the regulation of blood lipids, especially when combined with other supportive treatments (such as weight loss programs), but due to the heterogeneity of the included studies, it still needs more Many studies confirm its effectiveness and safety

  1. Good for non-alcoholic fatty liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver accounts for about 75% of all chronic liver diseases. It is mainly defined as abnormal fat accumulation in liver tissue (more than 5% of liver volume or weight), without alcohol consumption and chronic liver diseases (autoimmune and metabolic liver diseases) , Viral hepatitis) history

A large number of studies have found that non-alcoholic fatty liver is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and psoriasis.

A meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials involving 587 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease showed that the use of milk thistle extract (silymarin/silymarin) had The effect of reducing liver function index AST and ALT, and the effect of using alone is the best . Note 1

*Conclusion: For patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the use of silymarin/silymarin can help reduce AST and ALT, which has a positive effect on the prognosis of the condition

  1. Improve mucositis (caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy)

Mucositis is mainly related to cancer treatment (chemotherapeutics or radiotherapy). Because the treatment is not targeted, both malignant and normal host cells will be affected, causing the destruction of luminal mucosal epithelial cells and inhibiting growth, resulting in mucosal atrophy and necrosis And ulcers, causing difficulty in speaking, swallowing and eating.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (6 weeks in 27 patients with head and neck cancer) showed that milk thistle extract (1260 mg daily) delayed radiation-associated mucositis events compared with placebo , and reduce its severity. Note 1

*Conclusion: Oral milk thistle extract can improve the mucositis caused by the treatment of head and neck cancer, but the results still need to be confirmed by more large randomized trials

  1. Good for chronic hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus is the main cause of acute and chronic hepatitis. It is estimated that more than 2 billion people in the world have been infected, of which 250 million people have hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).

The main route of hepatitis B virus transmission is mother-to-child transmission, contacting the body fluids (blood, semen, and saliva) of the infected person through skin wounds or mucous membranes. The clinical manifestations range from asymptomatic carriers to explosive hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis And hepatocellular carcinoma may occur.

A literature meta-analysis (including 12 randomized controlled trials of chronic hepatitis B) pointed out that the combined use of silymarin/silymarin and antiviral or liver protection drugs has potential therapeutic value, which can improve serum transaminase (ALT/AST) and improvement of liver fibrosis markers . Note 2

*Conclusion: Silymarin combined with drugs may help to improve the therapeutic effect of chronic hepatitis B, but it is limited by the low quality of the included research, which still needs to be confirmed by more future studies.

  1. Good for diabetes

Due to aging, urbanization, diet and lifestyle changes, type 2 diabetes has become the disease with the highest prevalence. It is estimated that by 2040, more than 600 million people worldwide will be ill.

Type 2 diabetes is mainly characterized by decreased pancreatic β-cell function and deterioration of insulin resistance, which increase the probability of various nerve and blood vessel-related complications, including diabetic foot, retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

A literature meta-analysis (Meta-Analysis, including 5 randomized controlled trials, a total of 270 patients with type 2 diabetes) pointed out that compared with placebo, the use of milk thistle extract (silymarin/Silymarin) can improve blood sugar control (reduce fasting blood sugar, glycosylated hemoglobin) . Note 3

*Conclusion: Oral milk thistle extract (Silymarin/Silymarin) can help improve diabetes-related control indicators, but is limited by the small number of samples and heterogeneity, which needs further confirmation of health foods beneficial to diabetes (the first kind is often mentioned)

  1. Good for chronic hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C is a common cause of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver transplantation and primary liver cancer. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, it affects more than 3% of the global population (approximately 170 million people). It mainly spreads The route is drug injection, blood transfusion, hemodialysis, organ transplantation, sexual intercourse, etc.

Hepatitis C virus infection can be acute or chronic. About 20-30% of chronically infected patients develop cirrhosis after 10 years. The main factors that affect the progress of the disease are: alcohol intake, age, HIV or HBV co-infection, High body mass index, fatty liver, etc.

A meta-analysis of 5 randomized controlled trials involving 389 patients with chronic hepatitis C infection showed that oral milk thistle extract (silymarin/silymarin) failed to produce statistically significant Improvement effect (relevant indicators include: ALT, HCV RNA/hepatitis C virus nucleic acid and quality of life) . Note 4

*Conclusion: Up to now, oral milk thistle extract has not had any beneficial effects on chronic hepatitis C, and more large-scale experiments are needed to confirm it.

  1. Prevention of liver injury caused by anti-tuberculosis drugs

About 85% of tuberculosis cases are successfully treated, but adverse events associated with drug therapy, including hepatotoxicity, skin reactions, gastrointestinal and neurological disorders, reduce the effectiveness of treatment.

In patients treated with the combination of isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide, hepatotoxicity was the most common adverse reaction leading to discontinuation, occurring in 5% to 28% of patients Antituberculosis Drug-Induced Liver Injury, ranging from asymptomatic liver enzyme elevations to fulminant hepatic failure, may occur.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (Meta-Analysis, including 5 randomized controlled trials, a total of 1198 patients receiving anti-tuberculosis drugs) pointed out that compared with placebo, milk thistle (silymarin) can significantly reduce Occurrence of anti-TB drug-induced liver injury (anti-TB DILI) . Note 1

In addition, milk thistle (silymarin) also has a protective effect on liver function in patients receiving anti-tuberculosis drugs (reduced serum ALT levels at 2 and 4 weeks, decreased serum AST levels at 4 and 8 weeks, and decreased serum ALP levels at 8 weeks), while Well tolerated.

*Conclusion: Against the possible liver damage caused by anti-tuberculosis drugs, the use of milk thistle (silymarin) may have a preventive effect and help protect liver function.

Are there any side effects of Milk thistle?

For most people, oral milk thistle and its extracts are generally considered safe and well tolerated, but side effects that have been reported include headache, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal distension, musculoskeletal pain, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Safety precautions (4 points of use taboo)

      1. Do not use for pregnant women or breastfeeding women (because the relevant safety is unknown)
      1. People who have been allergic to Asteraceae plants should not use it. It may induce allergic reactions. Related plants include ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold and daisy
      1. People with symptoms that are sensitive to hormones (such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids), because milk thistle extract may have hormone-like effects and may cause symptoms to worsen
      1. Do not use in combination with drugs that require the action of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which may affect the efficacy of the drug and cause increased side effects. Related drugs include: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Valium, Zileuton (Zyflo), Celecoxib (Celebrex), Diclofenac (Voltaren), Fluvastatin(Lescol), Glipizide (Glucotrol), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Irbesartan (Avapro), Losartan (Cozaar), Phenytoin (Dilantin), Piroxicam (Feldene), Tamoxifen (Nolvadex), Tolinase, Torasemide (Demadex), Warfarin (Coumadin)

Where can I buy the highest quality Milk Thistle that is recommended by most people?

NOW Foods, Milk Thistle Extract, Double Strength, 300 mg, 200 Veg Capsules

(Direct shipping from the United States / Worldwide delivery)

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Product Features:

Milk thistle has been used by traditional herbalists for centuries. Scientific studies have indicated that constituents in milk thistle may help to support healthy liver function. This vegetarian formula also includes artichoke and dandelion for additional support.

Suggested use
Take 1 capsule 1 to 3 times daily.

Other ingredients
Hypromellose (cellulose capsule), microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate (vegetable source).

Not manufactured with yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nut or sesame ingredients.

Produced in a GMP facility that processes other ingredients containing these allergens.

This double strength product has twice the milk thistle extract (300 mg per capsule) as in our regular strength product (150 mg per capsule).

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