Milk thistle, also known as thistle with distinctive purple flowers, is a common plant in the Czech Republic. It belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae), which also includes sunflowers and daisies. This plant is almost entirely edible. You may not have noticed milk thistle until now, which is a shame as it has many beneficial effects provided by its crushed seeds.
From providing powerful and targeted support to our hard-working liver, to its ability to stimulate the immune system and even promote skin health, milk thistle has a number of health benefits that can be harnessed to promote overall body health. In this article we also present other effects that are proven by the results of scientific research and studies.
At the same time, we will advise you on how to process milk thistle and how to use the products made from it.
According to historical sources, milk thistle was already used in ancient Rome and Greece as a remedy for snake bites and bile flow.
However, a demonstrable connection between the effect of milk thistle on the liver tissue was not confirmed until 1968, when the active ingredients silybin, silydion and silicristin , collectively called silymarin , were isolated from the fruit.
Silymarin is the active ingredient found in milk thistle and responsible for its health benefits. That is why the plant is called Silybum marianum.
The substances contained in milk thistle are unique and some of them are practically absent from other plants. In addition to silymarin, it contains a proportion of proteins and vegetable oils, amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids and biogenic amines such as histamine and tyramine. Silicic acid and vitamin E are also important components that affect the nervous, circulatory and excretory systems.
Without a doubt, it is one of the most proven natural remedies for liver diseases and their general regeneration. This is thanks to a substance called silymarin, which is considered one of the most effective substances for restoring liver tissue. It treats the so-called fatty liver or liver cirrhosis, but also the consequences of their infectious inflammation, eg jaundice. The effects of silymarin are so pronounced that it is even successfully used to regenerate a severely damaged liver in drug addicts and treated alcoholics or people with liver damage as a result of long-term use of synthetic preparations, after chemotherapy or poisoning of various kinds, also, for example, after mushroom poisoning, etc . It is also useful where the liver is clogged either by poor diet or overeating, i.e. in overfed, overweight people. It also rids our bodies, for example, of today's conventional chemical food additives, which in high amounts are undeniably harmful to our liver.
All the mentioned effects of milk thistle have been professionally proven by many studies and its beneficial effect on our body is now well known even to doctors, who often recommend it to their patients.
The silymarin contained in milk thistle has a strong antioxidant effect. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to various diseases. These antioxidants also help protect and regenerate the liver and other organs and tissues in the body.
Milk thistle has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with many inflammation-related conditions. Chronic inflammation is linked to the risk of heart disease, diabetes and various autoimmune diseases. Milk thistle can help reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to overall health.
In addition to its effects on the liver, milk thistle may also help support the digestive system. Thanks to its astringent properties, milk thistle promotes the healing of stomach ulcers and treats digestive disorders like constipation. It stimulates the production of bile, which is important for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Milk thistle also acts as a protective barrier for the intestinal wall, which can help with various intestinal disorders. Other known effects are, for example, a slight increase in blood pressure, sometimes milk thistle also helps with headaches, even with motion sickness as a kind of "natural quinedryl".
Milk thistle is also effective in treating various skin problems like eczema, acne and rashes. Their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help soothe skin irritation and treat various skin infections.
The most common causes of gallstones are a poor lifestyle and an improper diet, in which fats, sugar and white flour predominate. Certain medications, female sex hormones and, last but not least, stress also increase the risk. The presence of gallstones is manifested by a sharp, cramping pain on the right side, which can shoot into the back or right shoulder. Milk thistle is one of the most popular home remedies for treating gallstones. It promotes urine production and helps remove toxins from the kidneys. This contributes to kidney health and can be beneficial for people with urinary tract problems.
In some cases, milk thistle can relieve allergy symptoms. It does not work in every case, the effect must be tested individually, but there are known cases where it helped, for example, with hay fever or hives, various rashes, etc.
Due to its beneficial effect on the skin, milk thistle is increasingly being used in the cosmetics industry. It is found in various skin care products, hair masks and acne treatment products.
Some studies suggest that milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects. The silymarins found in milk thistle have been shown to inhibit the growth of some types of cancer cells and encourage their death. However, more research is needed to determine the exact extent and mechanism of these effects on cancer.
In the past, milk thistle in the form of leaves and roots was used to treat ailments. Today it is mainly the seeds that are used and processed into teas, oils, capsules, tinctures, tablets or herbal mixtures. In general, it is recommended to take a dose of 200 to 600 mg of milk thistle three to four times a day. These amounts can be taken throughout the day or all at once, depending on package directions.
To be effective, milk thistle should be used as a cure - regularly over several weeks or months, preferably several times. It is important to avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol during their use and to limit the use of synthetic remedies whenever possible. The question arises in which form we should use this medicinal plant. If we want to use them preventively, tea made from crushed seeds will do. In view of the fact that silymarin is almost insoluble in water, the treatment is not intensive at all. However, if our liver is under long-term stress from improper diet, excessive intake of medication, alcohol, smoking, or more severe damage from disease or toxins, we prefer to use a tincture or oil that has a higher silymarin content and is therefore more effective.
However, considering that some of the valuable substances contained in seeds are soluble in water, while others are soluble in oil, a combination of all the above preparations is probably the most appropriate way.
Overall, milk thistle is a rare plant with a long history of uses and modern medicinal applications. Their healing and liver-protective properties make them a valuable tool in promoting human health. However, it is important to remember that even with natural remedies and dietary supplements, it is advisable to consult a specialist before using them, especially if you have health problems or are taking other medicines.