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About Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle Plant

If you were asked to name an important organ in your body, "the liver" might not be the first one you'd mention. Yet without a healthy liver, the rest of your body can't function properly. Today more than ever, it's important to keep your liver healthy. Potentially toxic substances are everywhere -- from pollutants in the air you breathe to chemicals in the processed foods you eat.

Your liver is essential to virtually every aspect of your body's metabolism because it processes all nutrients, toxins, drugs and any other substances that enter your body when you eat, drink and breathe. So how do you keep this hard-working organ in top condition? You could try limiting your exposure to environmental toxins and restricting your diet to high-fiber, low-fat foods.

Milk thistle has been used as a remedy for liver problems since the first century. More recently, health experts in Germany endorsed milk thistle as a supportive treatment for toxic liver damage, inflammatory liver disease and cirrhosis. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), a member of the sunflower family, has three main active compounds, known collectively as "silymarin."

As an antioxidant, silymarin is at least 10 times more potent than vitamins C and E, supporting the liver's ability to maintain normal liver function by preventing free radical damage. Some studies suggest silymarin protects liver cells by blocking the entry of toxic substances, and it's also suggested that it stimulates protein synthesis, which boosts the production of new liver cells and speeds up the regeneration process, even in damaged liver tissue.

Milk thistle has been proven beneficial in treating certain forms of liver disease, including jaundice, chronic hepatitis B, and liver damage due to drug and alcohol abuse. It has demonstrated a protective effect on the liver following exposure to environmental toxins (such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, and industrial cleaners), and after excessive amounts of the non-aspirin pain reliever acetaminophen.
(Source: Integrative Medicine Communications; iVillage.com)

And this natural liver detoxifier has still more benefits. Milk thistle promotes bile flow, which helps prevent gallstones and digestive problems associated with the gall bladder. It aids fat metabolism in the body, and helps alleviate the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis (skin conditions that are associated with toxins in the blood). Varicose and spider veins in the legs are helped by milk thistle treatment as well. (Source: Healthnotes.com)

And although most of us probably won't need it, the silymarin in milk thistle is the most effective antidote to death cap mushroom poisoning. Consuming Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom, results in severe, often deadly, liver damage. Silymarin supports the walls of liver cells, which prevents poisons from destroying them.

Milk thistle is practically devoid of side effects. Rarely, it produces a mild laxative effect that usually stops within a few days. Overall, however, milk thistle is safe for most people.
(Source: Healthpages.com)

 

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