What is Milk Thistle used for?

Milk thistle is a plant that is native to Europe and was brought to North America by colonists. Milk thistle is now found throughout the Eastern part of the United States, California, and South America. The plant can grow up to 2 meters high and has large purple flowers.

Most often, milk thistle is taken by mouth as a remedy for a liver disorder, including chemical injuries, alcohol, and chemotherapy. It can also be used to remedy damages caused by Amanita phalloides, mushroom poisoning, jaundice, and chronic inflammatory liver disease. Milk thistle can also be used in chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis.

Milk thistle is taken for gastrointestinal symptoms like loss of appetite, dyspepsia or heartburn, gallbladder disorder, and benign prostate hyperplasia. It can also be used for the management of beta-thalassemia and infertility.

You can also take oral milk thistle for;

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney damage secondary to diabetes mellitus
  • Hangovers
  • Prostate cancer
  • Lung and chest inflammatory disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Parkinson disease
  • Malaria
  • Diseases of the spleen
  • Menopausal symptoms like hot flushes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Stimulation of delayed menses
  • Increasing milk flow in breastfeeding mothers
  • Managing allergies

Some people also apply topical milk thistle as a remedy for skin toxicities caused by radiation. Others use milk thistle intravenously for Amanita phalloides mushroom poisoning, which can cause acute liver injury and fulminant life-threatening acute liver failure.

Some research shows that taking milk thistle extract by mouth three times daily, in combination with allergy medications, such as cetirizine, for one month reduces the risk of developing seasonal allergies to a greater extent than monotherapy with allergy medications.

Milk thistle substance silymarin improves mental function and the quality of life in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. An intravenous dose of milk thistle followed by Oram milk thistle has been demonstrated to alleviate or prevent liver injuries associated with mushroom poisoning.

For the management of heartburn or dyspepsia, milk thistle is used daily over four weeks. The regimen comprises milk thistle plus peppermint leaves, caraway, licorice, clown’s mustard plant, lemon balm, German chamomile, angelica, and centerline. The combination has been shown to reduce acid reflux, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

A combination of milk thistle product silymarin and selenium taken three times a day for six months has been demonstrated to relieve some symptoms in prostate cancer and improve the quality of life. Furthermore, consuming milk thistle at the beginning of cancer chemotherapy has significantly reduced the risk of chemotherapy-associated liver toxicity.

Milk thistle also improves liver function in patients with chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis or liver scarring. The therapy has significantly improved the quality of life in these patients. Furthermore, patients with cirrhosis who use milk thistle are less likely to die than their counterparts who don’t use milk thistle.

Milk thistle or silymarin reduces the risk of kidney damage secondary to diabetes mellitus, especially when given with antidiabetic medication. Milk thistle improves renal function, and if renal impairment has occurred, milk thistle ensured that this does not progress further.

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