Milk Thistle Benefits

Milk thistle has immense usage in the field of medicine. This herb had been used in the treatments of a variety of diseases, for over 2000 years.
Milk thistle truly dominates the world of medicinal herbs. This magnificent herb has multitudinous medicinal properties and is effective in curing plethora of diseases. Although, it is being used for medicinal purposes for the past 2000 years, its usage on a commercial level was approved only recently.

Facts About Milk Thistle

Milk thistle belongs to the daisy family, Asteraceae, the same as that of a sunflower. It probably derived its name due to the milky liquid present in the veins of its leaves. It is also referred to as St. Mary's thistle, Marian thistle, Silybum and Silymarin. Milk thistle finds its references in numerous literatures all over the world. The black colored seeds of milk thistle are particularly harvested for medicinal purposes

Milk Thistle Benefits

Milk thistle is mostly used in the field of medicine for its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. Its main active ingredient is silymarin which has tremendous therapeutic properties. A few medicinal benefits of milk thistle are as follows.

Liver Diseases

Flavonolignans are the compounds present in milk thistle extracts, that reduce the damage done to the cells, due to consumption of toxic substances like alcohol, and certain drugs. It stimulates the protein synthesis and thereby regenerates the liver cells. It detoxifies the liver by getting rid of free radicals. Moreover, milk thistle liver detoxification is a natural method of removing toxic substances from the liver. It is also considered effective in treating liver diseases such as viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, fatty liver disease and other liver dysfunctions


Milk thistle is known to possess some anti-cancer properties which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Research has shown that milk thistle prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer in human beings. However, more research is required to affirm its anti-cancer properties.

Cholesterol Control

Milk thistle not only reduces the LDL cholesterol in the body but also increases the amount of HDL or 'good cholesterol', which is an added advantage. It works better than any cholesterol lowering drug available in the market.

Bowel Movements

People suffering from diarrhea and constipation alike, benefit a great deal from milk thistle. It stimulates the bowel movement and helps to cure the bowel related disorders. The additional health benefits of milk thistle includes:
  • Stimulating milk secretion in lactating mothers.
  • Treating and preventing gallstones by regulating bile flow.
  • Milk thistle also helps treat diabetes to a certain extent.
  • It acts as a stress buster and helps cure adrenal disorders.
  • It improves the function of the thyroid gland.
Although, the whole of milk thistle is edible, it is better to rely on its commercially available forms, for therapeutic benefits. Milk thistle is mostly believed to be safe for consumption. However, its few side effects include joint pain, headache etc. Women with hormone related disorders should not take milk thistle, as it acts similar to female hormone estrogen. Even though milk thistle is of natural origin, its consumption should be limited and done only by physician's prescription.

Written by: Ashwini Kulkarni Sule for