Milk thistle is a popular herb that has been used for over 2,000 years. It’s known for its potential benefits in promoting liver health, weight loss, and even increasing breast milk production.
But what happens when you’ve had a bottle of milk thistle supplements sitting in your cabinet for a while? Does milk thistle go bad?
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of milk thistle and other supplements, how to properly store them, and how to determine if they’re still good to use.
So, let’s dive in and find out if your milk thistle supplements are still effective!
Does Milk Thistle Go Bad?
Milk thistle supplements, like any other supplement, can go bad over time. However, the shelf life of milk thistle can vary depending on how it’s stored and the quality of the raw materials used.
According to the information we found, milk thistle has a shelf life of four years from manufacture when stored in a cool, dry place. It’s important to keep milk thistle supplements out of direct sunlight and to ensure that the seal is always tight. Additionally, it’s recommended to keep supplements in areas out of the reach of pets and children.
It’s also important to discard milk thistle supplements once they reach their expiration date listed on the label. While it’s difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs, it’s generally recommended that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years.
To determine if your milk thistle supplements are still good to use, you can check their appearance and aroma. Herbs that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of their vibrant color and will instead appear dull and faded. The bigger key though is to smell the raw materials to see if the potent aroma is still present.
What Is Milk Thistle And Why Is It Popular?
Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a natural herb that has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for liver and gallbladder problems. It is a flowering plant that is native to Europe, but can also be found in parts of the United States, Australia, Asia, Africa, and South America. Milk thistle is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help detoxify the body and promote liver and gallbladder health.
One of the most popular uses for milk thistle is in the treatment of liver disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice. The active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help protect the liver from damage and promote healthy liver function. Milk thistle is also commonly used to promote healthy digestive function, increase bile production, decrease inflammation, and soothe mucous membranes throughout the body.
In recent years, milk thistle has gained popularity as a natural remedy for other health conditions such as acne, low breast milk supply, high blood sugar levels, and age-related cognitive decline. Some studies have shown that milk thistle may even have potential benefits in preventing cancer and osteoporosis in women.
How Long Does Milk Thistle Last?
The duration of milk thistle’s effectiveness can vary depending on the condition being treated and the individual’s response to the supplement. While some effects on certain parameters may be seen in weeks, chronic conditions may require several months of treatment to achieve the best outcome.
Based on traditional use, milk thistle has been used as an emergency antidote for poisoning by death cap mushroom. 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.
A human trial containing 420 mg in 3 divided doses for 12 weeks was effective on a study of thalassemia patients, and most clinicians agree that taking milk thistle in addition to iron chelation therapy is more effective than chelation therapy alone. A combination of milk thistle, diet, and exercise reduced cholesterol by 33.6 mg/dl compared to diet and exercise alone at 12 months.
While milk thistle is used for other conditions, most human trials that show effectiveness run for several weeks and most need more human data. The duration of treatment of up to 41-48 weeks is considered safe.
In terms of storage, it’s recommended to store milk thistle in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. While it’s difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs, herbs should generally be stored no longer than 2-3 years. Milk thistle supplements in powder form should last up to their expiration date, which is typically pushed out one year from manufacture when stored properly with the lid closed each time.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Milk Thistle
There are several factors that can affect the shelf life of milk thistle supplements. One of the most important factors is the quality of the raw materials used. The way milk thistle is grown, harvested, dried, and processed can impact its potency and shelf life.
Another factor that can affect the shelf life of milk thistle is storage conditions. If the product is left in hot places or open to sunlight, it will degrade much quicker than if it was stored in a cool, dry place and sealed tightly. It’s important to keep milk thistle supplements out of direct sunlight and to ensure that the seal is always tight. Additionally, it’s recommended to keep supplements in areas out of the reach of pets and children.
The degradation rate of herbs also depends on the constituents they contain. Some herbs lose their effect more easily, while others that possess more stable compounds such as alkaloids or steroids will last much longer. Milk thistle contains silymarin, an active ingredient that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The potency of silymarin can degrade over time, so it’s important to use milk thistle supplements before they reach their expiration date.
How To Store Milk Thistle Properly
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the potency and effectiveness of milk thistle supplements. Here are some tips on how to store milk thistle properly:
1. Keep it in a cool, dry place: Milk thistle supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat and humidity can cause the supplements to degrade quickly, so it’s important to keep them in a place with stable temperature and low humidity.
2. Ensure the seal is tight: The seal on the supplement bottle should always be tight to prevent air and moisture from getting inside. This can cause the supplements to spoil or lose their potency.
3. Keep it out of reach of pets and children: It’s important to store milk thistle supplements in areas that are inaccessible to pets and children. This will not only prevent accidental ingestion but also ensure that the supplements are not exposed to any external factors that may affect their quality.
4. Discard expired supplements: Milk thistle supplements should be discarded once they reach their expiration date listed on the label. Using expired supplements can be harmful and may not provide the desired health benefits.
By following these simple storage tips, you can ensure that your milk thistle supplements remain potent and effective for a longer period of time.
Signs That Milk Thistle Has Gone Bad
If you’re unsure whether your milk thistle supplement has gone bad, there are a few signs to look out for. Firstly, if the supplement has a rancid or foul smell, it’s likely that the raw materials have degraded and the supplement is no longer effective. Additionally, if you notice any mold or discoloration on the supplement, it’s best to discard it immediately.
Another sign that your milk thistle supplement may have gone bad is if you experience any adverse effects after taking it. This could include stomach upset, nausea, or allergic reactions. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to stop taking the supplement and consult with a healthcare professional.
Risks Of Using Expired Milk Thistle
Using expired milk thistle supplements can pose risks to your health. While taking a single dose of an expired supplement is unlikely to produce an adverse event, it’s important to note that expired drugs may become ineffective in treating your prescribed conditions. Therefore, it’s recommended to not use expired drugs and to consult with a primary health provider or pharmacist for proper advice if you feel unwell or sick.
If you have a chronic illness that requires taking medicine constantly, such as heart conditions, seizures, and life-threatening allergies, it’s much safer to keep in touch with your primary health care provider so that you can have a fresh supply of unexpired medications.
Furthermore, milk thistle can trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae (Ragweed) plant family. People who are allergic to artichokes, kiwi, ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums are at higher risk. People who have diabetes or endometriosis should check with a doctor before using milk thistle. While milk thistle has been traditionally used in pregnant and breastfeeding women, its safety is unknown. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before using milk thistle. Milk thistle is not recommended for children.
It’s also important to note that milk thistle supplements may interact with certain medications. If you take any medicines regularly, 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, people with diabetes should check with their doctor before taking the herb as it may make their blood sugar fall too low.