There is probably no plant more effective in treating liver disease than milk thistle. The main active ingredient, silymarin, has a strong protective effect, protecting this important organ against all kinds of damage and stimulating its regeneration. How does thistle work and in which cases is its use particularly recommended?
Table of contents
- 1 Seemingly inconspicuous – what do we know about thistle?
- 2 Milk thistle – medicinal properties resulting from the plant’s unique content
- 3 Milk thistle – protective effect on the liver and digestive processes
- 4 Additional attributes of thistle
- 5 Thistle vs weight loss. Does Silybum marianum support the weight loss process?
- 6 Use of thistle in cosmetics
- 7 How to use milk thistle? A few practical tips
- 8 How to eat thistle seeds?
- 9 Contraindications to the use of Silybum marianum
- 10 Liver protection and regeneration. What other herbs and products fulfill this role?
Seemingly inconspicuous – what do we know about thistle?
Milkthistle is one of the most valuable herbs when it comes to medicinal values. It grows wild in meadows, but is also widely cultivated. Silybum marianum, its Latin name, with its purple flowers and clinging leaves, is somewhat reminiscent of the thistle, although it is considerably larger than the latter. Another name for the plant is milk thistle, due to its appearance and the milk-like liquid found in the green parts of the herb.
However, this is not what determines the value and importance of thistle, important are, above all, its health-promoting properties, known since ancient times. In medicine, the fruits of thistle are used, which, rich in silymarin, show a regenerative effect on the liver and a number of other medical activities.
Because of its qualities, thistle has been for many years one of the most widely used herbs to support the liver and the digestive process. What is noteworthy is that it also proves effective in treating animals for liver problems.
Milk thistle – medicinal properties resulting from the plant’s unique content
A complex of plant-derived compounds, mainly flavonolignans and silibin and other substances, known as silymarin, extracted from the fruits of thistle is highly health-promoting. In particular, it protects liver cells from damage by inhibiting the impact of toxins, so it has a detoxifying effect, increases bile secretion, prevents cirrhosis, lowers cholesterol levels. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, stabilizes the structure of cell membranes and blocks the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Apart from silymarin, fruits of milk thistle also contain many other compounds which have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the organism, particularly the digestive system. These are, among others: flavonoids, phytosterols, organic acids, tannins, oils, vitamins C, K and E, mineral salts. A special role is played by linoleic acid, the content of which is over 50%.
Milk thistle – protective effect on the liver and digestive processes
Experience over many years proves beyond any doubt that thistle significantly supports the work of the liver by protecting its flesh, as well as the kidneys, from the harmful effects of all toxins.
It prevents cirrhosis, steatosis, prevents inflammation of the liver and protects this organ from the side effects of taking strong medicines related to other diseases, such as cytostatics necessary in anticancer therapy. It also reduces the risk of liver cancer by increasing levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that blocks free radicals and cancer cell division. Importantly, it also protects the kidney parenchyma and prevents kidney stones.
Milk thistle is also effective against various types of liver damage, regenerating old liver cells, increasing the production of new ones and accelerating the elimination of toxic substances. In addition, Silybum marianum prevents the formation of gallstones and effectively combats digestive disorders such as heartburn, flatulence, anorexia or acidity of gastric juice. Its application is much wider, it supports weight loss, improves skin condition and increases energy level.
Additional attributes of thistle
Thistle not only protects the liver, but in addition to the obvious effects mentioned above, this plant can also be useful in fighting other ailments. And so, it is used in the case of migraine, seasickness or motion sickness, relieving indeed the unpleasant symptoms. It is helpful in endometriosis, because it regulates the length of monthly bleeding.
The oil extracted from thistle seeds, containing unsaturated fatty acids, especially linolenic acid, which has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, also has special properties. Its presence, together with silymarin and vitamin E, makes thistle oil slow down the aging process, lighten the complexion and reduce skin lesions, as well as increase the regenerative capacity of the skin.
Thistle vs weight loss. Does Silybum marianum support the weight loss process?
Although thistle can not be considered as the main way to lose weight, it can undoubtedly prove to be very helpful in this process, especially if we are proponents of natural and safe methods of getting rid of excess pounds. The unique properties of silymarin mean that our liver will be protected during the treatment, it will work more efficiently and get rid of toxins faster. How will thistle help with weight loss?
First, a healthy liver, protected from harmful substances and free radicals, positively affects the functioning of the entire digestive system and makes metabolism more efficient and effective. In other words, better liver function also means faster metabolism and more effective fat burning.
Secondly, dynamic cleansing and detoxification of the body improves digestion, while excess harmful substances accumulating in the body slow down metabolism, not to mention the serious health problems it can lead to.
Thirdly, thistle alleviates all sorts of ailments that may arise as a result of changing your diet during a weight loss treatment. In addition, since it contains a lot of fiber, it normalizes the appetite and acts as a mild laxative, which is not without effect on good digestion.
Fourthly, this plant regulates the level of sugar in the blood, so you can avoid uncontrollable attacks of appetite. It also strengthens the capillaries.
Fifthly, thistle improves brain function, positively affects emotions and strengthens the heart, thus facilitating physical activity, necessary in the process of weight loss.
Finally, and not without significance in this case, thistle helps to preserve the moisture and firmness of the skin, which in the situation of radical weight reduction, tends to sag and lose its elasticity.
Use of thistle in cosmetics
The previously mentioned active substances present in Silybum marianum make this plant has been used in cosmetics for many years. The active compounds, such as silymarin, vitamins or unsaturated fatty acids, have not only skin care properties, but also antioxidant properties, and therefore counteract the skin aging processes.
Hence the presence of thistle, especially in the form of oil, in numerous skin care cosmetics – creams, body lotions, shampoos and conditioners. It promotes better hydration and regeneration of the epidermis.
How to use milk thistle? A few practical tips
There are many preparations containing thistle available on the market. However, proponents of all-natural treatments claim that thistle seeds in their raw form are much healthier and more effective, so they usually reach for the unprocessed herb. They can be purchased without any problem in many health food stores or pharmacies.
Whole thistle seeds are quite hard and not very suitable for eating in this form, so it is best to buy them whole, but before adding to meals grind the appropriate portion in a coffee grinder. Just like coffee, freshly ground will be better than lying in a box for a long time.
How to eat thistle seeds?
Since thistle seeds have a completely neutral taste, you can add ground to practically any dish, of course, keeping in moderation and following the recommended dosage. So, the powder can be poured into a smoothie, kefir, buttermilk, yogurt. Add to a salad, paste for sandwiches, soup, sauce. Some people add ground seeds to tea, others finally make their own infusion of two teaspoons of powder poured over boiling water. However, it seems more rational to consume thistle cold, because the high temperature can reduce the effect of active substances.
If we do not have the time or possibility to take thistle in its natural form, we can of course reach for a supplement containing an extract of this useful and valuable herb. It is worth ensuring that it is a high quality product.
Contraindications to the use of Silybum marianum
Although this herb can basically be taken constantly, but, like any medicinal preparation, it has its limitations, that is, contraindications to use. First of all, it is not recommended in cases of bile duct obstruction or very acute poisoning. It should not be taken by children under 12, pregnant and nursing women. It may also reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills.
Liver protection and regeneration. What other herbs and products fulfill this role?
Protection and regeneration of the liver is promoted primarily by those medicines that contribute to a more efficient cleansing of the body from toxins and all kinds of harmful substances that are residues of the metabolic process.
Detoxification is a very important factor influencing not only weight loss, but primarily the proper functioning of the entire human system. It serves to hydrate, oxygenate and deacidify it, significantly strengthens and regenerates the body, not to mention significantly supports the liver.
Various herbs, but also specially isolated substances of natural origin, some vitamins and enzymes, and even organisms such as algae, are used for more effective and faster cleansing of the body. When it comes to herbs, apart from thistle, it is necessary to mention such plants as: dandelion, nettle, green tea, alfalfa, mint, aloe vera or garlic. Among algae, the most noteworthy are chlorella and spirulina, among vitamins choline, or vitamin B4.
Effective ways to thoroughly detox your body and relieve your liver: