Milk thistle

We recommend:

Nature’s Sunshine Milk Thistle

(silybum marianum)

Milk thistle belongs to the same family as the artichoke. It grows wild in many different habitats. The seeds of the dried flower are used medicinally.

Medical use of milk thistle can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Nicholas Culpeper, the well-known 17th-century chemist, cited its use for opening “obstructions” of the liver and spleen and recommended it for the treatment of jaundice.

What it does

Silymarin, the key active compound in milk thistle, is one of the most potent liver protective substances known. Silymarin has been shown to increase glutathione production in the liver by around 30%, increasing its detoxification capabilities significantly. Silymarin also stimulates protein synthesis in the liver encouraging the growth of healthy liver cells. In addition, bile activity is stimulated by milk thistle, which is supportive to the liver and gall bladder.

Potential Uses

Cirrhosis of the liver Gallstones Liver toxicity
General liver support Jaundice Hepatitis
Psoriasis Detox side effects

Other information

Milk thistle is often taken to counteract the effects of alcohol on the liver.

It can be used to improve the flow of breast milk.

Silymarin can normalise skin cell replication by correcting the ratio between levels of cAMP and cGMP (the compounds that govern skin cell maturation and multiplication). This, combined with the herb’s anti-inflammatory effect makes it useful in the treatment of psoriasis.


If you take drugs that are metabolised by the P-450 enzyme system, check with your doctor before taking Milk thistle.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with Milk thistle.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using Milk thistle.



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