Health: Wellness Center
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  • Milk Thistle

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    Also indexed as:Carduus marianus, Silybum marianum
    Milk Thistle: Main Image© Steven Foster
    Botanical names:
    Carduus marianus, Silybum marianum

    Parts Used & Where Grown

    Milk thistle is commonly found growing wild in a variety of settings, including roadsides. The dried fruit (also called achenes) are used to produce modern herbal extracts.

    • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
    • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
    • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

    Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

    For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

    This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

    Used for AmountWhy
    Liver Support
    420 to 600 mg of silymarin daily3 stars[3 stars]
    Though not a treatment for withdrawl symptoms, milk thistle extract is commonly recommended to counteract the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver, as this herb speeds the regeneration of injured liver cells.
    Hepatitis
    420 mg of silymarin daily2 stars[2 stars]
    Supplementing with milk thistle may support the liver.
    Liver Cirrhosis
    420 mg of silymarin daily2 stars[2 stars]
    Supplementing with milk thistle may protect liver cells and improve function.
    Type 2 Diabetes
    200 mg per day of silymarin 2 stars[2 stars]
    Supplementing with silymarin (a component of milk thistle) may help lower blood sugar levels.
    Gallstones
    Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
    Milk thistle extracts in capsules or tablets may be beneficial in preventing gallstones.

    Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

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

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    The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.


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