Top 10 Benefits of Milk Thistle Seeds
Milk thistle has been used for 2,000 years as a natural remedy for numerous health ailments. It’s most often recognized for its detoxifying properties, but there’s much more to it than that.
As the use of milk thistle seeds in natural health remedies continues to increase in popularity, so does the amount of research being done on it.
While more research still needs to be done to uncover the full impact milk thistle has on the body, one thing is clear: milk thistle is jam-packed with beneficial nutrients that impact the body in many positive ways.
At this point, you’re probably wondering: what are the benefits of milk thistle and why should I add it to my daily routine?
We’ve rounded up the top ten benefits of milk thistle to help you answer that question.
1. Support natural detox
One of the most intensely studied features of milk thistle is its ability to protect the liver and help it repair itself.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide, studies have suggested “that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.”
The liver problems milk thistle is known to help combat, according to WebMD, include cirrhosis, jaundice and more.
The reason milk thistle works so well as a detox support is due to the fact that it contains silymarin, a flavonoid compound. According to Dr. Mercola, Silymarin “is responsible for many of milk thistle’s beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.”
Milk thistle is an anti-fibrotic, which Dr. Mercola says prevents tissue scarring and acts as a toxin blockade.
Why is protecting your liver important? Love Your Liver says it best: “Your liver is your very own chemical processing plant. It receives 30% of the blood circulating in your system every minute – performing chemical reactions to remove harmful toxins and distribute and store essential nutrients.”
A healthy liver means a healthy you.
2. Promote cell growth and regeneration
On the theme of having a healthy liver, milk thistle also promotes cell growth and cell regeneration.
This means, according to Health Ambition, that when alcohol and certain commonly prescribed medications such as antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering prescriptions potentially harm your liver cells, the silymarin in milk thistle has the ability to promote the regeneration of the damaged cells.
Not only does milk thistle encourage your body to repair damaged cells and tissue, but it also protects cells and tissue from future damage as well.
3. Encourage healthier skin
Your skin is your body’s the largest organ, so it’s natural that your body both absorbs and gets rid of toxins through it.
According to Livestrong.com, your health can be assessed based on the condition of your skin. “When disease or illness is evident you may experience acne, psoriasis, eczema or other skin complaints. Milk thistle not only helps to detoxify your liver, it keeps your colon clean to encourage the elimination of toxic waste.”
Your skin benefits as a direct result of this detoxification. On top of this, milk thistle reduces inflammation which can reduce irritating flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne.
According to an article in the Pharmacognosy Review, the silymarin in milk thistle can also protect the skin from UV ray damage, particularly when applied topically.
4. Hormone help
Milk thistle has been known to support balanced hormones. How does it do this? Through what else? The liver.
Natural Fertility Info tells us that “liver health is vital for hormonal balance. The liver helps to filter toxins from the body, including excess hormones.”
Because of its hormonal actions, milk thistle has also been known to increase breast milk production.
Similarly, milk thistle can also help combat symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and mood swings.
5. Blood sugar balance
Though more research needs to be done in order to draw more clear conclusions about this benefit, Organic Facts suggests that a mixture of antioxidants, fatty acids and the silymarin found in milk thistle can work towards regulating insulin levels and balancing blood sugar.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research has demonstrated that milk thistle improved control of blood sugar in people with diabetes.
6. Promote gallbladder health and prevent gallstones
The gallbladder, located under the liver, is what stores the bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in fat digestion.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the use of milk thistle for gallbladder detoxification.
As part of keeping gallbladder health up, milk thistle works towards preventing gallstones. Gallstones occur when bile hardens. These stones could block a passageway in your gallbladder, leading to pain and possibly a gallbladder attack.
Natural Alternative Remedy says the silymarin in milk thistle raises bile solubility, encouraging circulation and lowering the chances of bile hardening and turning into a painful gallstone.
7. Aid digestion
A combination of some of the previous benefits is what brings us to this one. Your body is a machine, in order to have a successful digestive system, the rest of your organs need to be in tip-top shape too.
Through the improvement of bile circulation, reduction of liver inflammation and the repair of damaged cells that we’ve previously mentioned, your overall digestive health improves.
According to the Underground Health Reporter, milk thistle promotes overall intestinal health but has also been known to treat digestive problems like constipation and even irritable bowel syndrome. Milk thistle aids these problems as it acts as “a demulcent, which means it softens and moisturizes the mucous membranes, healing inflamed intestinal walls and calming the symptoms.”
8. Help calm seasonal allergies
There’s nothing worse than the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches. These reactions can come from pollen, dust and mold, just to name a few of the culprits.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians suggests that milk thistle can “help reduce allergic, inflammatory, and histaminic reactions.”
Next time seasonal allergies are bothering your sinuses, try some milk thistle to get rid of those pesky symptoms.
9. Support your kidneys
As we saw with the liver, milk thistle also promotes natural detoxification through healthy kidney function, too.
Milk thistle aids in the protection and restoring of kidney cells, just as it does in the liver. According to Life Extension, our kidneys can be damaged by taking pharmaceutical drugs, but milk thistle can reduce or prevent kidney damage that may be caused by this.
10. Ease heartburn
Many people are familiar with that intense burning feeling in the middle of their chest after eating certain foods. According to Newsmax Health, this occurs when stomach acid goes into the food pipe, and sometimes even creeps into the esophagus.
Due to anti-inflammation properties milk thistle possesses, it can be used as a tool to reduce these symptoms of heartburn.
A fun fact about milk thistle is that it can be used as an emergency treatment death cap mushroom poisoning, were you to accidentally ingest these deadly fungi.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Animal studies have found that milk thistle extract completely counteracts the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.”
While you should never eat any mushrooms you don’t recognize, it’s kind of cool to learn about a simple plant that can present such an effective antidote.
This benefit falls into the category of interesting facts to share at your next dinner party, not something you should put into practice! If you ever accidentally eat an unidentified or potentially poisonous mushroom, such as the death cap, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.
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