Why Is Milk Thistle Good For Your Liver?

Milk thistle’s silymarin, a substance isolated from the seeds, is its active component and the one that defends the liver. Silymarin is actually a class of flavonoids that includes silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. These flavonoids are supposed to aid in the healing of liver cells that have been harmed by alcohol and other toxins. Silymarin also guards against these same poisons destroying brand-new liver cells. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is a potent antioxidant, which is why it is frequently recommended for persons with hepatitis or liver inflammation.

The majority of milk thistle products are standardised preparations prepared from the plant’s seeds that range in silymarin content from 70% to 80%.

How soon does milk thistle start to work on the liver?

According to the previously cited study, milk thistle is generally regarded as safe to ingest over a prolonged period of time—up to 41 months.

If you’re wondering how long milk thistle should be taken for a liver cleanse, the answer is identical to that in the preceding section: you should start to experience health advantages after about 3 to 4 months. However, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support whether liver detoxes or cleanses actually work, so use them with the understanding that they aren’t a proven way to treat liver damage.

Can milk thistle heal a damaged liver?

Infection with the hepatitis B or C virus cannot be cured by milk thistle, nor will it restore any existing liver damage. People with cirrhosis issues shouldn’t use milk thistle (such as variceal bleeding or ascites).

How frequently may I take milk thistle?

In scientific studies, the following doses have been investigated:


  • For up to six months, 210–600 mg of milk thistle extract daily have been used to treat diabetes. For four months to a year, 200 mg of milk thistle extract was administered once day or three times daily. For a period of three to twelve months, a specific product (Berberol, PharmExtracta) containing 210 mg of milk thistle extract and 1176 mg of tree turmeric extract daily was consumed.

What occurs when you ingest milk thistle to your body?

According to medical study, milk thistle may help with diabetes when used in conjunction with conventional therapies. In type 2 diabetics, studies have demonstrated a reduction in blood sugar levels and an improvement in cholesterol.

Additionally, scientists discovered that milk thistle reduced insulin resistance, a crucial aspect of type 2 diabetes.

Before taking any supplements since they can conflict with your medicine, see your doctor. Find out more about type 2 diabetes natural treatments.

Do the kidneys get damaged by milk thistle?

The well-known herbal remedy milk thistle (Silymarin marianum) is frequently used to assist the liver. By improving liver, kidney, and pancreas function, it aids in detoxification.

Detoxification, or “detox,” frequently conjures up images of a time when one must follow a highly restricted diet or endure unpleasant procedures to make one throw up or experience diarrhoea. Successful detox doesn’t require a drastic change in lifestyle. In both daily maintenance and more delicate patients, such as the elderly or those receiving chemotherapy, slow and steady can win the race. All living things naturally go through a process of detoxification, and the liver and kidneys are the main organs responsible for this process. The best elimination of toxins from the body takes place when these organs are operating at maximum capacity. This crucial work is supported by several herbs that protect and maintain renal and hepatic function. The milk thistle is one of these herbs, along with ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), bupleurum (Bupleurum falcatum), schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), turmeric (Curcuma longa), and a number of others.

These flavonoid complexes are strong antioxidants that significantly contribute to milk thistle’s effectiveness. Additionally, milk thistle has anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, immune-modulating, antifibrotic, and liver regen properties. It is most famous for its hepatoprotective effects and is a member of the Asteraceae family. It has white veining in its green leaves and the traditional purple thistle flower.

For severe toxin exposures, the body is ready to respond violently with diarrhoea and vomiting, but most of the time, toxic exposures are more undetectable and sneaky. The primary organs for detoxification are the liver and kidneys, and they toil silently and diligently every day to complete this vital task. We have the capacity to gently support the body’s continuing cleansing and healing processes by carefully choosing high-quality sources of specific herbs, such as milk thistle.

How can you tell whether your liver is cleansing itself?

Signs of liver detoxification include tremors, anxiety, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and more.

The liver, the second-largest organ in the body (after the skin), is in charge of metabolite detoxification, protein synthesis, hormone synthesis, and bile generation (a fluid necessary for the digestion process). By eliminating dead cells, invasive bacteria, and toxic hormones, it cleanses the blood.

Bodies are subjected to a variety of toxins that are absorbed through food and drink, the environment, alcohol usage, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, drug abuse, and by-products of various bodily metabolization.

All of these toxins are cleansed by the liver, whose efficient operation is essential to maintaining good health in humans.

These toxins cannot be removed when the liver is damaged. As a result, they might begin to build up as fat, which eventually results in a condition known as fatty liver.

The indicators of liver detoxification, which is a crucial step in rehabilitation, include the following:

Does milk thistle make you gain weight?

In a recent study, the effects of milk thistle extract on obese mice were examined. Despite eating the same amount of food, the milk thistle-treated mice lost roughly 5% of their body weight, while the control group gained weight throughout during the research ( 4 ).

What supplements ought to be avoided when taking milk thistle?

Before using milk thistle, if you are on any medications, you should talk to your doctor because milk thistle affects the liver, which is where the majority of drug metabolism occurs. You shouldn’t use milk thistle without first consulting your doctor if you are currently on any of the medications listed below.

  • Antipsychotics. includes phenothiazines and butyrophenones, such as haloperidol (such as chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, and promethazine).
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin). a seizure treatment drug.
  • Halothane. a drug that is administered during general anaesthesia.
  • either hormonal replacement therapy or birth control tablets.

Because milk thistle and the following drugs are metabolised by the same liver enzymes, milk thistle may interact with them:

  • medications for allergies. for instance, fexofenadine (Allegra).
  • medication to lower cholesterol. lovastatin is one example of a statin (Mevacor, Altocor).
  • medications that reduce anxiety including lorazepam, diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax) (Ativan).
  • antithrombotic and antiplatelet medications (blood thinners). including warfarin and clopidogrel (Plavix) (Coumadin).
  • some cancer medications. include Raloxifene, a medication for breast cancer.
  • drugs that the liver breaks down. Milk thistle may have an impact on medications that the liver breaks down because of how it affects the liver. Consult your physician.

Can milk thistle treat fatty liver disease?

According to reports, silymarin prevents poisons from adhering to liver cells. Additionally, it controls free radicals. These unstable compounds are leftovers from bodily processes. However, they may cause health problems and injure healthy cells.

Mixed findings have come from medical study on milk thistle and liver health. According to studies, silymarin may reduce inflammation and encourage cell healing. This could reduce the symptoms of disorders of the liver like jaundice, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and fatty liver.

The viral illness hepatitis C, which is a different liver disease, is not affected, according to other studies. In a significant study, silymarin was found to have no therapeutic benefit in hepatitis C patients, even at doses higher than usual. In comparison to individuals who took a placebo, researchers observed no differences in virus levels or quality of life in those who took milk thistle.

No herbal supplement has, to now, been demonstrated to be efficient against hepatitis C.

Silymarin does have a decent track record when it comes to treating a particular type of mushroom poisoning, though more research is required in that area.

For good reason, Amanita phalloides is also known as the death cap. The majority of annual deaths caused by foraged mushrooms are caused by it. It can cause liver damage and even liver failure when consumed. However, silymarin has shown useful, and at least one clinical investigation is now being conducted.

Possibly Effective for…

  • Diabetes. According to some studies, silymarin, a compound included in milk thistle, can help diabetics with blood sugar, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. According to preliminary study, silymarin may lower insulin resistance in persons with diabetes and liver disease brought on by drinking. However, discussing silybin, another milk thistle component, everyday for 4 weeks did not appear to have any impact on blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • Heartburn (dyspepsia). A particular combination product (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc.) that contains milk thistle along with peppermint leaf, German camomile, caraway, licorice, clown’s mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and lemon balm appears to lessen the severity of acid reflux, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting when taken daily for four weeks.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…

  • a liver condition brought on by binge drinking. There is conflicting information regarding milk thistle’s ability to treat liver damage brought on by alcohol. Early studies indicate that ingesting milk thistle may enhance liver function and lower the chance of death. Other study, however, contends that it might not.
  • allergy season. According to some studies, using milk thistle extract three times per day for a month lowers seasonal allergies more effectively than taking cetirizine (Zyrtec) by itself.
  • Alzheimer’s condition. According to preliminary study, taking a combo supplement containing silymarin, a substance included in milk thistle, helps Alzheimer’s patients perform more mentally.
  • poisoning from amanita mushrooms. Early studies suggest that administering the milk thistle compound silibinin intravenously (IV) and then orally may decrease liver damage brought on by poisoning with the Amanita phalloides fungus (death cap). However, silibinin is difficult to find in the US.
  • prostate growth (benign prostatic hyperplasia). An individualised silymarin and selenium supplement called Favea, available in Koprivnice, Czech Republic, may help men with symptoms of an enlarged prostate, according to preliminary studies.
  • The blood condition beta-thalassemia. Beta-thalassemia patients 12 years of age and older who use a special silymarin supplement called Legalon (Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) three times per day for three months do not appear to experience any improvement in symptoms. However, a different study discovered that when taken for nine months, it might offer some benefits.
  • toxicity from chemotherapy. According to preliminary study, taking a milk thistle supplement that contains the chemical silibinin before starting a chemotherapy regimen did not considerably lessen the liver toxicity brought on by chemotherapy.
  • a scarred liver (cirrhosis). Early studies suggest that milk thistle or silymarin, a substance present in milk thistle, may lessen mortality risk and enhance liver function in cirrhotic individuals. However, when those without cirrhosis are taken into account, milk thistle does not appear to help all people with liver disease.
  • Diabetes patients with kidney disease. Early study suggests that silymarin, a substance present in milk thistle, may aid in the treatment of diabetic kidney disease when combined with standard therapy.
  • Hepatitis. There is conflicting evidence on milk thistle’s impact on hepatitis patients. According to some studies, silymarin (Legalon, Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) taken orally three times per day for four weeks lessens hepatitis symptoms including dark urine and jaundice but does not enhance liver function tests. However, taking IdB 1016 (Silipide, Inverni della Beffa Research and Development Laboratories’ milk thistle supplement) by mouth every day for two to three months may enhance several liver function tests.
  • B-type hepatitis There is conflicting evidence on milk thistle’s impact on hepatitis B patients. According to preliminary research, liver function tests can be improved by taking milk thistle extracts silymarin (Legalon, Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) or a silybin-phosphatidylcholine combination called IdB 1016 (Silipide, Inverni della Beffa Research and Development Laboratories) orally three times daily for 28 days to one year. However, additional research indicates that silymarin taken orally three times per day for five to twenty-five days did not enhance liver function in those with hepatitis B.
  • C-type hepatitis There is conflicting evidence on milk thistle’s impact on hepatitis C patients. According to preliminary research, liver function tests can be improved by taking milk thistle extracts silymarin (Legalon, Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) or a silybin-phosphatidylcholine combination called IdB 1016 (Silipide, Inverni della Beffa Research and Development Laboratories) orally three times daily for 28 days to one year. However, some studies indicate that consuming milk thistle does not reduce the levels of the hepatitis C virus.
  • elevated cholesterol. There is conflicting evidence regarding how milk thistle affects cholesterol. According to preliminary studies, silymarin, a substance present in milk thistle, does not lower cholesterol in patients with high cholesterol. However, additional research demonstrates that individuals with diabetes and high cholesterol can lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides by taking the same chemical.
  • Infertility. According to preliminary studies, women undergoing in vitro fertilisation owing to male infertility may benefit from ingesting the milk thistle compound silymarin combined with fertility medications.
  • signs of menopause. According to research, using Phyto-Female, a combination product with milk thistle, twice daily for three months can reduce hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal patients by 73% and 69%, respectively. The quality of sleep also increases. It is unknown what milk thistle would do when taken by itself.
  • a number of sclerosis. Early studies indicate that taking a combination supplement containing silymarin, a substance present in milk thistle, can enhance mental performance and encourage disease stabilisation in MS patients.
  • Alcohol-unrelated fatty liver disease (NAFLD). According to preliminary research, individuals with liver disease that is not brought on by alcoholism may benefit from taking the oral supplement Realsil (Instituto Biochimico, Italiano), which contains the milk thistle chemical silybin, phosphatidylcholine, and vitamin E, twice daily for a period of 12 months.
  • Disorder of compulsive behaviour (OCD). According to preliminary studies, ingesting milk thistle leaf extract three times per day for eight weeks had a negligible impact on OCD symptoms. It does not seem to be more advantageous than traditional medicine.
  • Parkinson’s condition. According to preliminary studies, taking a combo supplement containing silymarin, a substance present in milk thistle, enhances mental performance and helps Parkinson’s patients’ condition stabilise.
  • breast cancer. The blood protein known as PSA can be used to detect and track the progression of prostate cancer. According to preliminary research, men with a history of prostate cancer may be able to delay the rise in PSA levels by regularly ingesting a supplement that contains silymarin, soy isoflavones (Novasoy, ADM), lycopene (Lyc-O-Mato, LycoRed Natural Products Industries, Ltd.), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, it is unclear what milk thistle by itself will do.
  • Radiation poisoning that affects the skin. Early studies suggest that using a specific product containing the milk thistle ingredient silymarin (Leviaderm, Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) can lessen the skin’s exposure to radiation in breast cancer patients.
  • Chemicals can harm the liver. There is conflicting evidence on milk thistle’s ability to reverse liver damage brought on by chemicals. In patients who have been exposed to the chemicals toluene or xylene, silymarin (Legalon, Madaus GmbH, Cologne, Germany) taken orally daily for up to one month improves liver function tests. However, taking silymarin orally every day for three months does not appear to stop the liver damage tacrine (Cognex) causes in persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Hangover.
  • Spleen conditions.
  • a gallbladder issue.
  • Inflammation of the lungs (pleurisy).
  • Depression.
  • Malaria.
  • Uterine discomfort
  • perimenopausal issues.
  • minimal breast milk.
  • other circumstances

To evaluate the efficacy of milk thistle for these uses, more data are required.

According to the following scale, the effectiveness of natural medicines is rated by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

When used orally, milk thistle extract is LIKELY SAFE for most individuals. Sometimes milk thistle has a laxative effect. Other less frequent adverse effects include loss of appetite, bloating, fullness, diarrhoea, indigestion, and intestinal gas.

If milk thistle should be injected into the body or used topically, there isn’t enough trustworthy material available to say.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Breast-feeding and pregnancy: There isn’t enough trustworthy data to determine whether eating milk thistle while breast-feeding or pregnant is safe. Avoid use to be on the safe side.

Ragweed and similar plant allergies: Individuals with ragweed and related plant allergies may experience an allergic reaction to milk thistle. Ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and numerous more plants are members of this family. Before using milk thistle, take sure to see your doctor if you have any allergies.

Diabetes: Some milk thistle compounds may help diabetics manage their blood sugar. The dosage of diabetes drugs may need to be changed.

hormone-sensitive diseases such endometriosis, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and uterine fibroids: It’s possible that milk thistle extracts mimic oestrogen. Use caution if you have a condition that could be aggravated by oestrogen exposure.


drugs that the liver alters (substrates for cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9)) Moderate interaction rating Use this combination with caution. Consult your healthcare practitioner.

The liver modifies and breaks down several drugs. Milk thistle may slow down the rate at which some drugs are metabolised by the liver. Combining milk thistle with several drugs that the liver breaks down can intensify their benefits and negative effects. If you take any medications that are affected by the liver, discuss it with your doctor before taking milk thistle.