The liver is our largest internal organ, weighing in at around 3 pounds (1.5 kg). A strong liver is needed for good health and a strong immune system, as it plays a main role in keeping all of our body’s systems in balance. The herb milk thistle has been used for many centuries as a powerful way to protect, strengthen, and revitalize the liver.
The liver is a multitasking organ. Just some of the many liver functions include filtering and purifying the blood, producing bile for proper fat digestion, storing numerous vitamins and minerals, breaking down excess hormones, and removing microbes and parasites from the bloodstream.
Some early symptoms of a sluggish liver can include a weakened immune system, very low energy levels, digestive problems, elevated LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, cellulite, poor skin and hair, and inability to lose weight.
Milk thistle protects the liver, improves its function, and enhances its ability to regenerate. This herb has been used to successfully treat liver disease, liver cirrhosis, and liver inflammation. Milk thistle also repairs our liver from the harmful effects of alcohol, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and other toxic substances.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is isolated from the seeds of the herb. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that rival those of vitamin C and vitamin E, and quality milk thistle supplements contain 70-80% silymarin.
How much to take varies by the individual. Generally about 100-200 mg 2-3 times a day is recommended, but even higher doses are considered safe. Possible side effects at higher dosages are an upset stomach and/or mild diarrhea, as milk thistle can have a mild laxative effect.
Silymarin in milk thistle is a potent antioxidant, while milk thistle can also increase the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione, other strong antioxidants. Other health benefits of milk thistle include helping to:
• stabilize blood cholesterol levels, reducing total cholesterol levels and helping to convert LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.
• stabilize blood sugar levels; used to help with type 2 diabetes.
• improve appetite and digestion, including fat digestion.
• improve gallbladder disorders, including dealing with gallstones.
• boost immunity.
• alleviate some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including heartburn and constipation; increased glutathione levels also help slow the disease’s progress.
• improve adrenal disorders.
• prevent altitude sickness.
• prevent and/or fight against certain types of cancer.
• slow atherosclerosis development by preventing plaque formation on artery walls.
Recent study demonstrates milk thistle’s ability to curb lung cancer
A recent study has produced evidence of milk thistle reversing lung cancer. Alpna Tyagi, PhD, of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, and her team found that treatment with silibinin, which is the same substance as silybin but with a different name, stopped the spread of lung cancers in mice. The study was published in the summer 2011 journal Molecular Carcinogenesis.
An inflammatory response leads to a chain of cellular events that can eventually result in tumor growth. Tyagi and her team discovered that targeting a certain pair of enzymes part of the way into that chain of events eliminates the creation of the final pair of enzymes that produce tumors.
In other words, milk thistle’s silibinin (aka sylibin) eliminates those enzymes that continue the chain of events, which result in the enzymes that produce tumors.
This study is good news for anyone looking to include another natural inexpensive, safe weapon for one’s personal war on cancer, and should lead to further studies with milk thistle for other forms of cancer.
After doing your own research about the benefits of milk thistle for your overall health, I recommend you to check here.
Dr. L. GERAKOULIAS M.D. [E.H.]