If you’re interested in natural remedies for liver health, you may have heard of milk thistle.
This herb has been extensively researched for its ability to support liver detoxification and repair from injury.
But what about its oxalate content? Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals that can be found in many foods, and high levels can lead to kidney stones.
In this article, we’ll explore whether milk thistle is high in oxalates and what that means for your health.
So, let’s dive in and find out!
Is Milk Thistle High In Oxalates?
Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a plant that has been used for centuries to support liver health. The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is often concentrated into supplements.
While milk thistle is known for its liver-protective properties, some people may be concerned about its oxalate content. Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals that can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
So, is milk thistle high in oxalates? The answer is no. In fact, milk thistle is considered to have a low oxalate content. While some sources suggest that silymarin extract may contain some oxalates, the levels are generally very low.
This means that if you’re looking to support your liver health with milk thistle, you don’t need to worry about consuming high levels of oxalates.
What Are Oxalates And How Do They Affect The Body?
Oxalates are a type of organic acid that can be found in many plant-based foods. They are naturally occurring compounds that are produced by plants as a defense mechanism against predators. Oxalates can bind to minerals in the body, such as calcium and magnesium, and form crystals that can cause damage to tissues and organs.
When oxalates accumulate in the body, they can lead to a condition called hyperoxaluria, which is characterized by high levels of oxalates in the urine. This condition can increase the risk of kidney stones and other health problems.
Oxalates can also affect the body in other ways. They can bind to sulfate receptors in the body, causing a loss of the sulfate molecule. This can lead to hormonal dysregulation, PMS, and other issues related to the shredding of tissues. Oxalates can also trigger inflammation and activation of mast cells, which can contribute to conditions such as MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome).
In addition, oxalates can displace or replace sulfate in connective tissue, leading to weakened structural stability. This can result in conditions such as Elrhlos Danos syndrome and hypermobility.
Finally, some people may experience temporary negative side effects when their body is ridding itself of excess oxalate stores. These side effects may include painful bowel movements and urination, skin rashes, mood changes, and fatigue.
Foods That Are High In Oxalates
While milk thistle may not be high in oxalates, there are many other foods that are. Some common foods that are high in oxalates include spinach, berries, wheat bran, nuts, beets, and rhubarb. While these foods are not commonly fed to pets, it’s important to be aware of their oxalate content as some pet owners may occasionally give their dogs these foods.
For individuals with calcium oxalate kidney stones or those who need to cut back on oxalates in their diet, it’s important to limit the consumption of high oxalate foods. However, it’s important to note that strict oxalate restriction may not be necessary for most people. Instead, focusing on other aspects of a healthy kidney stone diet such as limiting sodium and sugar, keeping protein to appropriate amounts, and including enough calcium can be more effective at kidney stone prevention.
In general, avoiding the five common high oxalate foods (spinach, almonds, rhubarb, beets, and raspberries) along with consuming dairy with meals can help lower urine oxalate levels to safe levels for most people. However, it’s always best to work with a dietitian or doctor who knows your medical history and lab results to determine what diet is best for you. A 24-hour urine test can also provide valuable information about your urine oxalate levels.
The Benefits Of Milk Thistle For Liver Health
Milk thistle has been extensively researched and is known for its ability to support liver health. The liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, and milk thistle may help support the liver’s natural detoxification processes.
Studies have shown that milk thistle can help repair liver damage caused by acute injury, as well as support a fatty liver, bile flow, and clearance of toxins from the liver due to exposure to chemicals, drugs, and alcohol. Additionally, milk thistle has been shown to reduce advanced glycation end products, which are sticky residues that contribute to aging of the skin and body tissues.
Milk thistle also contains antioxidants that can boost the body’s natural antioxidant systems, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. This can help protect the liver from free radicals and oxidative stress.
For lactating women, milk thistle may promote healthy milk production. For men, milk thistle is known to promote prostate health.
While some individuals with oxalate sensitivity may need to avoid consuming high levels of oxalates, milk thistle is considered to have a low oxalate content. This means that for most people, milk thistle can be safely consumed to support liver health over a long period of time or during a periodic cleanse period of 1-3 months depending on individual goals.
Does Milk Thistle Contain Oxalates?
While milk thistle is not considered to be high in oxalates, it is important to note that silymarin extract may contain some oxalates, albeit in low levels. However, this should not be a cause for concern as the overall oxalate content in milk thistle is still considered to be low.
For individuals who are sensitive to oxalates or have conditions such as kidney stones or gout that require them to limit their oxalate intake, it may be best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking milk thistle supplements.
Research On Milk Thistle And Oxalate Levels
Research has shown that milk thistle is not high in oxalates. While oxalates can be found in many plant foods, including some herbs and supplements, milk thistle has been found to have a low oxalate content.
One study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health investigated the effect of various beverages on kidney stone formation. While some beverages were found to increase the incidence of kidney stones, such as sugary noncola soda or punch, others were found to decrease the incidence, including decaffeinated coffee, tea, regular coffee, and red wine. However, milk thistle was not included in this study.
Another study focused on the potential for certain dietary supplements to increase urinary excretion of oxalate. The researchers hypothesized that over-the-counter supplements may contain high levels of oxalate, but found that the concentration of oxalate in supplements was not always associated with urinary oxalate excretion. This suggests that other nutritional components of the supplements may be influencing oxalate biosynthesis, absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, and/or renal handling.
While some herbal products have been found to have high levels of oxalates, such as silimarin (which is the same as milk thistle) at 46 mg per teaspoon, milk thistle itself has been found to have a low oxalate content.
How Much Milk Thistle Is Safe To Consume?
While milk thistle is generally safe for most people, it’s important to follow recommended dosages and talk to your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.
There is no standardized dosage for milk thistle, but most people do well consuming between 20-300 milligrams daily. If you’re taking milk thistle specifically for liver support, the recommended daily intake is 150 milligrams, taken one to three times daily. This dose may act as a natural liver detox.
For ongoing liver support, it’s recommended to take between 50-150 milligrams of milk thistle daily. When choosing a milk thistle supplement, look for a high-quality product that contains between 50-150 milligrams of pure milk thistle extract per capsule. This will allow you to adjust the amount you’re taking based on your needs.
It’s also important to note that because milk thistle is categorized as a supplement rather than a drug, it’s not subject to the same oversight and quality control from the FDA that standard drugs are. This means that the amount of active ingredients can vary widely depending on the different preparation methods used and the brand.
To ensure that you’re getting a safe and effective product, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, it’s still important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.