Milk Thistle Benefits Scientifically Proven Information.
Marian thistle, also known as milk thistle, saint thistle, is a medicinal plant widely used to make home remedies for liver and gallbladder problems. Its scientific name is Silybum marianum and can be found in health food stores, pharmacies and some street markets.
Milk thistle extract has health benefits in general, especially for the liver, and may be able to treat diseases that affect this organ, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The active ingredient in milk thistle, an antioxidant flavonoid known as silymarin, reduces inflammation and oxidative damage that can lead to the development of cancer. In addition, it helps to preserve glutathione, the main antioxidant to fight inflammation in the body.
In a scientific review carried out in 2007 by scientists at the University of Minnesota, in the United States, “strong evidence” was found that confirmed the protective effects of milk thistle extract on the liver, as well as the anti-cancer effects of silymarin. The silymarin prevents the development of cancer by inhibiting the binding of toxins to cell membrane receptors.
In another study published in The International Journal of Oncology, scientists found that silybin, a form of silymarin, suppressed chemoresistance – which allows cancer cells to resist the effects of drugs.
The team of researchers noted that silibinin also prevents new malignancies, protects against potentially cancer- causing DNA mutations and inhibits tumour growth.
In other research, scientists found that silymarin it also helps prevent liver damage from chemotherapy, while protecting the skin and mucosal lining against damage from radiation therapy.
Milk thistle is also a potent antifungal agent. Overgrowth of Candida albicans, a common fungus, can cause symptoms such as fatigue, “brain fog”, digestive problems and skin rashes.
In an international study, scientists found that silymarin can penetrate the cell membrane of Candida albicans, preventing the growth and spread of the pathogen while eliminating it.
The silymarin also effective in blocking and inhibiting the formation of biofilm pathogens such as fungi and bacteria, which provide resistance to drugs.
The silymarin also helps regulate glucose levels, diabetic patients may benefit. In a recent study, which lasted 90 days, a combination of milk thistle, Boswellia serrata and nettles reduced haemoglobin A1c levels in the blood by 19 percent.
The combination of herbs also significantly decreased the levels of sugar in the blood – an average of 150 to 180 mg / dl to an average of 124 mg / dL, and also reduced triglyceride levels.
Another recent study showed that silymarin protects the retina from damage caused by diabetes that can cause blindness.
Milk thistle is also known to be beneficial to the liver, having the ability to improve liver enzymes, regenerate liver cells and relieve diseases that affect this organ.
In addition to alleviating the symptoms of hepatitis and cirrhosis, milk thistle has shown promise in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and in stopping the progression to steatohepatitis, a more severe form of the disease.
The research confirmed the beneficial effects of milk thistle for liver disease: patients with hepatitis treated with silymarin returned to work earlier and had less depression and anxiety than those in the control group.
In addition, milk thistle helped to detoxify the liver and protect against injuries caused by heavy metals and drugs.
In a review published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, the team attributed to silymarin the reduction of liver damage caused by a number of toxins, drugs and heavy metals – including paracetamol, carbon tetrachloride, radiation, alcohol, iron overload and Amanita phalloides, a type of poisonous mushroom.
The protective effects of milk thistle also extend to the stomach. The herb has been shown to suppress gastric inflammation and protect against ulcers caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Another benefit of milk thistle is its ability to act as an antidepressant. Animal studies support its ability to reduce anxiety and depression caused by traumatic brain injury, which appears to reduce the activity of microglia cells caused by disturbances in the neural circuits between the limbic system and the cerebral cortex.
The researchers noted that silymarin reversed stress- induced changes in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, while increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter’s serotonin and dopamine.
Due to the ability of silymarin to reduce inflammation and neurodegeneration, scientists are also exploring its potential to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
How to use?
The fruits of the thistle are usually used to make tea. The tea is made with a teaspoon of crushed fruit and 1 cup of boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, strain and drink 3 to 4 cups a day.