Can Milk Thistle Protect Your Liver From Disease?

Milk Thistle has become an herbal leader in the treatment of liver disease due to its ability to help the liver detoxify the body. It has also become one of the most physician recommended herbs for those individuals suffering with Fatty Liver Disease, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Cancer of the Liver, and dysfunctions of the Gall Bladder.

How milk thistle works

The main compound of the milk thistle plant is silymarin, shown to protect the liver from harmful substances and functions in five primary ways.

1. It strengthens the liver cells outer membranes to help prevent damaging toxins from penetrating the liver.

2. It neutralizes liver cell damage caused by toxins – its antioxidant action is 10x greater than those found in Vitamin E.

3. It helps to enhance protein synthesis.

4. It helps to reduce fibriotic activity.

5. It reduces the action of liver enzymes responsible for causing inflammation in the liver.

What is liver disease?

Liver disease can be categorized as any type of ailment which decreases the liver’s ability to cleanse the blood. These ailments can be classified as Hepatitis, Cirrhosis of the liver, Fatty Liver Disease, Liver Cancer, Jaundice, and Cholangitis. In addition, everyday toxins such as drugs, prescription medications, mercury, heavy metals, alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, anesthesia, and pesticides can inhibit your liver’s ability to cleanse your body.

For patients suffering with one or more of these ailments, doctors have been known to instruct their patients to start taking a milk thistle supplement. Why?

Patients suffering from hepatitis will benefit from a decrease in inflammation in the liver.

Milk thistle’s ability to soften the liver cells helps tremendously in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver.

Cancer of the liver will decrease the liver’s ability to detoxify the body. Taking a milk thistle supplement in this case increases the liver detoxifying abilities.

Lastly exposure to those everyday toxins can elevate your liver enzymes. Taking the milk thistle product will help enable your liver to maintain the proper levels of liver enzymes increasing your liver’s ability to cleanse.

Milk thistle and the digestive system

Milk thistle’s properties don’t just help with liver function; it has also been shown to help improve the function of the bowels. Milk thistle has been shown to have a mild and gentle laxative quality to it.

Milk thistle helps to increase bile production and flow in the digestive tract. This mild laxative quality helps to lubricate and soften the stools, balancing an individual who is suffering from both diarrhea and constipation.

Liver Inflammation

In treatment of hepatitis doctors often recommend milk thistle to alleviate the inflammation that the disease can cause. This ability of milk thistle to alleviate inflammation not only applies to hepatitis, but to all sorts of inflammation in the human body.

Milk thistle is categorized as a demulcent; meaning it has the ability to moisten and sooth all inflammations in general – including those in the kidney, bladder, and mucus membranes. It has been found especially helpful in the treatment of skin irritations and acne caused by inflammation. Many patients reported an improved glow and radiance to their skin when taking milk thistle.

Disease of the gall bladder

Milk thistle’s properties of reducing inflammation and increasing bile flow make it a natural treatment for those suffering with various diseases of the gall bladder. Its ability to reduce inflammation in the Gall Bladder helps to relieve irritation and pain. In addition, increasing the bile flow flushes out any old material that may be present, including gallstones. It is important that before initiating the use of milk thistle that it is confirmed that there are no gallstones present that are too big for the gall bladder to pass on its own. A visit to your doctor will be necessary to get clearance to proceed.

Possible side effects

During the process of detoxifying your body is ridding itself of toxins – and they don’t go without a fight. Some temporary side effects should not stop you from completing your goal of feeling better in the long run. Be prepared to deal with a mild case of one or more of the following when taking milk thistle or detoxifying in general: abdominal bloating, fullness, or pain, diarrhea, changes in bowel habits, headache, skin reactions, rhinoconjunctivitis, anaphylaxis (rarely seen).

Please note that certain dietary supplements may worsen liver problems. Milk thistle is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new health regimen.