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Milk thistle is an herb with potent medicinal qualities, primarily due to silymarins. These active components provide many benefits, including liver support and detoxification.
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Milk thistle is a flowering herb that is in the same family as sunflowers and daisies, although it is primarily grown for medicinal purposes.
Milk thistle is highly regarded for its liver health benefits, but it has also been used to support lactation, gallbladder health, and even clear skin.
Milk thistle supports the liver in several ways. It promotes the regeneration of liver cells, which can keep the organ from sustaining damage in response to toxins. It can also help the liver work optimally to remove toxins from the body. It may also decrease the harmful effects that alcohol and other toxins may have on this crucial organ and has even been used to treat cirrhosis, jaundice, and hepatitis C in adults.
Health Benefits of Milk Thistle
- Supports liver health and detoxification
- Promotes healthy antioxidant levels and helps defend cells against free radical damage
- May protect against cancer by supporting DNA integrity and may help prevent cancer-causing cellular changes
- May lower inflammation levels that could harm cardiovascular health
- May support healthy glucose and inflammatory levels in the context of diabetes
- May help to decrease insulin resistance
- Promotes cognitive function
- May support lactating mothers by increasing breastmilk production
Milk Thistle Supplements
Milk thistle is a common herbal supplement that may be taken in several forms, including capsules, tinctures, extracts, or teas.
The dosage of a milk thistle supplement depends largely on the form it is in and the reason it is being consumed—follow instructions on the product that you’re taking, and realize that no two milk thistle supplements are likely the same. Companies may formulate their products differently, and sometimes milk thistle is found in formulations that include other liver support or related herbs.
Milk thistle, like many other herbs, has the potential to interact with medications and other supplements. It may especially interact with blood thinners, allergy medications, antibiotics, and antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you.
Today’s Simple Step
While milk thistle can support liver health, there are also many dietary ways to support this essential organ. The liver plays a primary role in the collection and removal of toxins from the body, but has many other functions, too: hormone and drug metabolism, bile production, storing nutrients, regulating blood clotting, supporting immune function, producing proteins needed for blood plasma, and so much more.
Foods like beets and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are all beneficial for the liver because they contain nutrients that support the liver’s detoxification role. The fiber in these foods can also promote liver health by supporting good digestive health, which is essential in order for organs to receive enough antioxidants and other nutrients.
This Raw Beet Relish is a great way to support liver health. Beets are also good for promoting healthy blood pressure, normal inflammation levels, and cognitive health.