Silybum marianum, or more commonly referred to as milk thistle, is a native biennial plant. It originated in Southern Europe and was found all the way across to Asia. It has since then expanded and is now found all over the world. Milk thistle has purple to red flowers, pale green, thorny leaves with white veins, and it can grow anywhere from 30 cm to 200 cm tall.
The first use of this plant dates back to the first century, when the Romans used it as herbal medicine. Centuries later, a British herbalist found milk thistle treated a number of disorders regarding the liver, spleen and kidney. Much later, Germans found it had a role in treating blood problems. Milk thistle is now widely used as an herbal remedy to treat various illnesses.
Benefits of Milk thistle
All parts of milk thistle, including the seeds, are used to make medicine. Milk thistle is particularly effective in treating liver disorders, as it contains an active ingredient; research shows this ingredient protects the liver from highly toxic poisons. This active ingredient, furthermore, protects against mushroom poisoning, jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation of the liver, as well as chronic hepatitis.
Milk thistle also increases appetite, reduces heartburn, and eases gallbladder issues. Some use this herb for depression, malaria, spleen disease, certain cancers, hangovers, diabetes, and to increase breast milk production. Other uses include alleviating symptoms of allergies and stimulating menstrual flow.
The list continues:
- Alcoholic fatty liver
- Liver poisoning
- Adrenal disorders
- Food allergies
- Reduce menopausal symptoms including hot flashes
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Reduces the growth of cancer cells in lung, breast, colon, cervical, renal and prostate cancers
How to Use Milk thistle
Milk thistle’s seeds and leaves can be used to make a tea that benefits your whole health. Crush the seeds or leaves with a mortar and pestle and boil them into three cups of water. Strain out the seeds or leaves, and drink regularly before and after meals.
How and Where to Buy
Milk thistle extracts are available commercially. Especially for allergies, take 140 mg of this extract up to three times a day to reduce allergy symptoms and improve general health. Taking the capsules is another easy way to get the benefits of milk thistle.