Are you pregnant and looking for natural ways to support your liver health and hormone balance?
Milk thistle may be just what you need! This powerful herb has been used for centuries to promote liver function and detoxification.
But, is it safe to take during pregnancy?
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of milk thistle for pregnant women, as well as any potential risks or side effects.
So, grab a cup of tea and let’s dive in!
Can I Take Milk Thistle When Pregnant?
Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a plant that has been traditionally used to support liver health and hormone balance. It contains a compound called Silymarin, which is known for its liver-protective properties.
While milk thistle is generally regarded as safe for most people, it’s important to exercise caution when taking any herbal supplement during pregnancy.
According to research, milk thistle is safe for pregnant women when taken in recommended doses. However, it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements or herbs during pregnancy.
What Is Milk Thistle And How Does It Work?
Milk thistle is a flowering herb that is native to Europe but can also be found in parts of the United States, Australia, Asia, Africa, and South America. The plant grows up to 2 meters high and has large, bright purple flowers. Milk thistle gets its name from the milky sap that comes out of the leaves when they are broken. The leaves also have unique white markings that, according to legend, were the Virgin Mary’s milk. The above-ground parts and seeds are used to make medicine. The seeds are more commonly used.
Milk thistle contains a compound called Silymarin, which is known for its liver-protective properties. Silymarin can protect the liver from toxins, repair damaged tissue, and reduce inflammation. It also stimulates the production of bile, which helps to break down fats, eliminate toxins, and support hormone production.
Milk thistle is often suggested as a treatment for liver disorders such as cirrhosis and hepatitis. Studies have shown that milk thistle can improve liver function and increase survival in people with these conditions. However, problems in the design of the studies, such as small numbers of participants and differences in dosing and duration of milk thistle therapy, make it hard to draw any firm conclusions.
Additionally, milk thistle may help strengthen a person’s immune response and reduce chronic inflammation produced by the immune system. Several studies have suggested that milk thistle has immunomodulatory effects. Researchers found silymarin stimulated the immune system and suppressed an overactive immune system to tamp down on chronic inflammation involved in conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
While milk thistle is generally regarded as safe for most people, it’s important to exercise caution when taking any herbal supplement during pregnancy. Pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before taking milk thistle or any new supplements or herbs during pregnancy to ensure their safety.
Benefits Of Milk Thistle During Pregnancy
Milk thistle can provide several benefits for pregnant women. Here are some of the potential benefits of taking milk thistle during pregnancy:
1. Supports Liver Health: The liver plays a crucial role in detoxifying the body, and it’s especially important during pregnancy when the body is working hard to eliminate toxins. Milk thistle can help support liver health by stimulating the liver to eliminate toxins and excess hormones from the body. This can help prevent morning sickness and other pregnancy-related symptoms.
2. Hormone Balance: Milk thistle may also support hormone balance during pregnancy. Hormonal imbalances can cause a range of symptoms, including mood swings, fatigue, and irritability. By supporting liver health, milk thistle may help balance hormones and alleviate these symptoms.
3. Increases Breast Milk Production: After delivery, breastfeeding mothers may benefit from taking milk thistle as it has been shown to increase breast milk production.
4. Eases Depression and Baby Blues: Depression and baby blues are common during and after pregnancy. Milk thistle has been found to ease depression and may be a helpful support in preventing the baby blues.
5. Safe for Long-Term Use: Milk thistle has been shown to be safe for long-term use, and there have been no harmful effects reported from limited use in pregnant women. No harmful effects were reported in pregnant animal studies.
Potential Risks And Side Effects
While milk thistle is generally considered safe for most people, it can cause some potential risks and side effects, especially for pregnant women. Some of the common side effects of milk thistle include gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal bloating. Itchiness and headache are also reported in some cases.
Furthermore, milk thistle can trigger allergic reactions in some people. If you are allergic to plants such as artichokes, kiwi, ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to milk thistle. People who have diabetes or endometriosis should also check with their doctor before using milk thistle. While milk thistle has been traditionally used in pregnant and breastfeeding women, its safety is unknown. Therefore, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to check with your doctor before using milk thistle.
Milk thistle may also interact with certain medications. If you take any medicines regularly, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you start using milk thistle. It could interact with many drugs, including some that treat high cholesterol, infections, insomnia, and blood pressure. Since milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels, people with diabetes should check with their doctor before taking the herb as it may make their blood sugar fall too low.
Finally, according to research studies, high doses of silymarin can lead to embryo resorption and intrauterine growth retardation. Furthermore, it can induce some kind of malformations in the fetuses such as craniofacial, vertebral and limb defects. Therefore, it is suggested that great caution should be taken when prescribing silymarin during pregnancy and further investigations to reveal the underlying mechanisms should be performed.
Dosage And Safety Guidelines
Dosage guidelines for milk thistle during pregnancy can vary depending on the form of the supplement. Milk thistle seed extract or capsules are commonly used in herbal preparations.
The recommended daily dosage of milk thistle extract (standardized to contain at least 70% silymarin) for pregnant women is 280 mg. It’s important to note that exceeding this dosage may cause adverse effects.
It’s also important to be aware of any potential side effects associated with milk thistle. While it is generally regarded as safe, some people may experience mild side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, milk thistle may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others.
Additionally, milk thistle should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women without consulting with a healthcare provider first. People with a history of hormone-related cancers, including breast, uterine, and prostate cancer, should also avoid taking milk thistle.
Other Natural Ways To Support Liver Health During Pregnancy
Aside from milk thistle, there are other natural ways to support liver health during pregnancy. One of these is dandelion root and dandelion tea. Dandelion has been proven to strengthen and benefit the liver, making it a safe natural remedy for cholestasis of pregnancy. It’s also a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Another way to support liver health during pregnancy is by eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. These foods are packed with antioxidants that can help protect the liver from damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, it’s important to avoid consuming alcohol and other toxins that can harm the liver.
Regular exercise can also help support liver health during pregnancy. Exercise helps improve circulation, which can aid in the detoxification process of the liver. It also helps maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Lastly, getting enough rest and managing stress levels can also support liver health during pregnancy. Stress can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to liver damage over time. Getting enough sleep and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can help reduce stress levels and support overall liver health during pregnancy.
Conclusion: Is Milk Thistle Right For You During Pregnancy?
If you’re considering taking milk thistle during pregnancy, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, milk thistle has been shown to support liver health and hormone balance, which can be beneficial during pregnancy. However, it’s important to be aware that milk thistle can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications, so it’s best to take it under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.
Milk thistle is generally considered safe for pregnant women when taken in recommended doses. However, it should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women without consulting with a healthcare provider first. Additionally, people with a history of hormone-related cancers should avoid taking milk thistle.
While milk thistle has many potential benefits, it’s important to consider your individual health needs and consult with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements or herbs to your routine during pregnancy. With the right guidance and care, milk thistle may be a safe and effective addition to your prenatal care plan.