Why Take Milk Thistle?

Silymarin, a flowering herb related to the ragweed and daisy families, is also known as milk thistle. It is indigenous to nations in the Mediterranean. Other names for it include Mary thistle and holy thistle.

What advantages does ingesting milk thistle have?

What Is the Purpose of Milk Thistle?

  • Reduce cholesterol levels to assist the heart.
  • assist those with type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis with their diabetes.

Is daily consumption of milk thistle okay?

Up to 420 mg of milk thistle taken three times per day is often regarded as safe for the majority of people. However, it could result in gastrointestinal issues like nausea or diarrhea as well as allergic reactions like itchiness, headaches, and joint discomfort.

What are the milk thistle’s harmful side effects?

Milk thistle side effects include:

  • abdominal discomfort or bloating
  • allergy symptoms.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Gas.
  • Indigestion.
  • Itching.
  • decrease in appetite.
  • Nausea.

In whom should milk thistle not be taken?

A tried-and-true method for boosting the body and healing disease is the usage of herbs. Herbs, however, can cause adverse reactions and combine with other herbs, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals. For these reasons, you should use herbs cautiously and under a doctor’s supervision.

Milk thistle is typically thought to be secure. The following are examples of moderate side effects:

  • upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • nausea and diarrhoea
  • Rash (from touching milk thistle plants)

Milk thistle should not be taken by anyone who has a history of hormone-related malignancies, such as breast, uterine, or prostate cancer.

If you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies, DO NOT consume milk thistle.

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 ).

Do I take milk thistle at night or in the morning?

Since milk thistle is often well tolerated by the body, you can take it whenever you like. There isn’t a specific time of day when it’s more potent or effective, it may be taken on an empty stomach or as an additional component with meals, and it won’t keep you up at night.

The optimal time to take milk thistle is typically advised to be about 30 minutes before a meal if you’re taking it for acid reflux, bloating, or other related stomach concerns.

On the other hand, consuming milk thistle after eating will also assist to lessen these problems if you overeat and have stomach pain or lethargy as a result.

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 diarrhea. 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 diarrhea 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.

Supports liver health

A 2016 study discovered that milk thistle helped mice with diet-induced liver impairment. The medical world needs more proof that milk thistle has the same positive effects on human livers.

Researchers do, however, believe it does. Silymarin, the active component of milk thistle, functions as an antioxidant by lowering the generation of free radicals. This has a detoxifying impact, according to scientists, which explains why milk thistle might help with liver issues.

However, until more studies are conducted, doctors do not advise milk thistle as the main course of treatment for liver issues. But if a medical expert recommends it, it might be a useful supplemental treatment to consider.

Promotes skin health

Milk thistle might support the growth of healthy skin. In a 2015 study, it was discovered that using it on mice’s skin helped to reduce inflammatory skin disorders.

In a different investigation, researchers discovered that milk thistle has antioxidant and anti-aging benefits on human skin cells in a lab setting. A 2019 study that used lab-grown cells discovered that milk thistle’s chemical constituents may slow down skin aging and protect against the damaging effects of sun exposure.

To determine the advantages a person can anticipate from applying milk thistle to their skin, researchers must conduct additional human studies.

Reduces cholesterol

High cholesterol can affect one’s heart health and raise their risk of stroke. Despite being inconclusive, some evidence suggests that milk thistle may have an effect on blood cholesterol levels.

According to a 2006 study, milk thistle may help lower cholesterol levels. It was discovered that patients taking milk thistle to treat diabetes had lower cholesterol levels than those receiving a placebo.

In a 2016 study, rats were given a diet rich in cholesterol. They found that the rats who received silybin (the milk thistle’s active ingredient) at doses of 300 and 600 mg/kg of body weight had considerably reduced levels of triglycerides and total blood cholesterol.

Supports weight loss

In the initial animal studies done in 2016, it was shown that silymarin produced weight loss in mice that were fed a diet designed to make them gain weight.

This suggests that milk thistle may help those who want to lose weight. To be certain of this, more research on milk thistle’s effects on weight loss in people is required.

Reduces insulin resistance

In a 2016 study on mice, it was discovered that milk thistle extract reduced insulin resistance, an issue for those with type 2 diabetes. The ingredient silymarin appears to be a “promising chemical for the treatment of insulin resistance, notably in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2020 review of studies on milk thistle.

Milk thistle may help control diabetes, but additional study is needed to determine whether it also lowers insulin resistance and aids in the treatment of diabetes.

Improves allergic asthma symptoms

Inflammation of the airways results from the immune system overreacting to environmental cues in the chronic inflammatory condition known as asthma. Milk thistle’s active component might aid in reducing inflammation.

According to a 2012 study, silymarin helped protect allergic asthmatic mice’s airways against inflammation. Asthma symptoms may be controlled by silymarin through controlling immunological responses, according to a 2020 study in mice.

To determine whether silymarin reduces the symptoms of asthma in humans, the medical community needs more research.

Can milk thistle cause you to go potty?

The following digestive problems are brought on by milk thistle: Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal bloating. Itchiness. Headache.

Is milk thistle a hair loss-causing herb?

The plant known as milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, and Asia. Also known as Blessed Milkthistle, Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle, Saint Mary’s Thistle, Mediterranean Milk Thistle, Variegated Thistle, and Scotch Thistle, this plant is Silybum marianum. However, scientifically, it has not yet been proven to treat such ailments, and study is currently ongoing. It is typically used as a natural treatment for liver issues, such as hepatitis and gallbladder disorders.

In addition, milk thistle supports healthy skin and hair. Regarding the skin, this plant can perform a variety of miracles including moisturizing and softening, postponing aging, and making the skin clear and clean. It has been discovered that milk thistle extract, specifically silymarin, supports healthy hair by halting hair loss and fortifying hair follicles. It is well recognized to be more effective in protecting the hair when coupled with other organic materials and plants.

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 chamomile, 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 individualized 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 fertilization 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 stabilization 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 behavior (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 stabilize.
  • 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, diarrhea, 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 estrogen. Use caution if you have a condition that could be aggravated by estrogen 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 metabolized 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.