Milk Thistle Extract

BOTANICAL NAME: Silybum marianum PARTS USED AND HABITAT: Milk thistle is indigenous to Europe and commonly found growing wild in a variety of settings, including roadsides. The seeds of the dried flower are used. INDICATIONS AND USAGE: (1) Primary uses: Alcohol-related liver disease; Liver cirrhosis(2) Secondary uses: Hepatitis. (3) Other uses: Gallstones; Psoriasis. HISTORICAL OR TRADITIONAL USE (may or may not be supported by scientific studies): Medical use of milk thistle can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Nicholas Culpeper, the well-known seventeenth-century pharmacist, cited its use for opening ?obstructions? of the liver and spleen and recommended it for the treatment of jaundice. ACTIONS AND PHARMACOLOGY: Milk thistle seeds contain a bioflavonoid complex known as silymarin. This constituent is responsible for the medical benefits of the plant. Silymarin is made up of three parts: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. Silibinin is the most active and is largely responsible for the benefits attributed to silymarin. Milk thistle extract may protect the cells of the liver by blocking the entrance of harmful toxins and helping remove these toxins from the liver cells.As with other bioflavonoids, silymarin is a powerful antioxidant. Silymarin has also been shown to regenerate injured liver cells. Recent findings show that silymarin has the ability to block fibrosis, a process that contributes to the eventual development of cirrhosis in persons with inflammatory liver conditions secondary to alcohol abuse or hepatitis. While there are no published clinical trials to date, this action makes milk thistle extract potentially attractive to persons with chronic hepatitis C. Milk thistle extract is most commonly recommended to counteract the harmful actions of alcohol on the liver.Long-term placebo-controlled, double-blind studies have shown milk thistle extracts to be effective in patients with liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B, and even diabete


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