Will Milk Thistle Help You Lose Weight?

There isn’t much evidence to support milk thistle’s capacity to increase fat loss or improve body composition, despite the fact that it is occasionally used to aid in weight loss.

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).

A few small human studies have examined the impact of milk thistle on several metabolic signs of obesity, such as insulin resistance and inflammation, but none have specifically examined milk thistle’s capacity to encourage fat reduction (5).

Although the findings are encouraging, there is insufficient data from a single animal study to conclusively say if milk thistle can help people lose weight.

According to one study, milk thistle promoted fat reduction in obese mice. However, more investigation is required to discover whether similar outcomes can be possible in people.

What occurs after milk thistle use begins?

Risks. A reaction to milk thistle may be allergic. At greater risk are those who are allergic to artichokes, kiwi, ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. Before using milk thistle, anyone with diabetes or endometriosis should consult a doctor. Although milk thistle has historically been used by expectant and nursing mothers, its safety is unknown. Before using milk thistle, see your doctor if you’re pregnant or nursing. Children should not consume milk thistle.

adverse consequences. Even when consumed for a long period of time, milk thistle appears to have few adverse effects. Some people experience bloating, itching, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Interactions. Before beginning to use milk thistle, discuss with your doctor if you regularly use any medications. Numerous medications, including those used to treat excessive cholesterol, infections, sleeplessness, and blood pressure, may interact with it. People with diabetes should consult their doctor before taking milk thistle since it may cause their blood sugar to fall too low. Milk thistle may drop blood sugar.

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 ageing 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.

What advantages come from consuming milk thistle regularly?

The milk thistle plant, also known as Silybum marianum, is the source of the herbal treatment milk thistle.

A drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk is said to have fallen into the leaves of this thorny plant, which is why it has characteristic purple blossoms and white veins, according to traditional tales.

Several plant chemicals together referred to as silymarin are the active components in milk thistle (1).

Milk thistle extract is the name of the herbal cure for it. Silymarin, which comes from the milk thistle plant and has been extracted, is present in high concentrations (between 6580%) in milk thistle extract.

It is well known that milk thistle’s silymarin extract has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant effects (2, 3, 4).

In fact, it has long been used to cure diseases of the liver and gallbladder, encourage the production of breast milk, prevent and treat cancer, and even shield the liver from environmental toxins like alcohol and snake bites.

1. Milk Thistle Safeguards the Liver

People with liver damage brought on by illnesses including alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and even liver cancer frequently utilise it as a supplemental therapy (1, 5, 6).

Furthermore, it is employed to safeguard the liver from poisons like amatoxin, which is created by the death cap mushroom and is fatal if consumed (7, 8).

Studies on persons with liver problems who took a milk thistle supplement showed improvements in liver function, indicating that it may help lessen liver inflammation and liver damage (9).

Milk thistle is supposed to lessen liver damage brought on by free radicals, which are created when your liver metabolises hazardous chemicals, however more research is required to understand how it works.

Additionally, a study discovered that it might marginally increase the lifespan of those who have cirrhosis of the liver brought on by alcoholic liver disease (10).

The outcomes of research, however, have been conflicting, and not all of them have indicated that milk thistle extract is effective in treating liver illness.

Therefore, more research is required to establish the dosage and duration of treatment required for various liver disorders (2, 11, 12).

There is presently no proof that milk thistle extract can prevent you from developing liver problems, even though it is frequently used as a supplemental therapy for those who have them, especially if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

Summary Additional research is needed to determine whether milk thistle extract can help prevent liver damage brought on by illness or poisoning.

2. It might prevent the decline in brain function that comes with ageing

For more than two thousand years, people have used milk thistle as a traditional treatment for neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (13).

Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics, it may be neuroprotective and prevent the loss in brain function that comes with ageing (14, 15).

Silymarin has been demonstrated to protect brain cells from oxidative damage in test-tube and animal experiments, which may help prevent mental decline (16, 17).

Milk thistle may be able to lessen the amount of amyloid plaques in the brains of animals with Alzheimer’s disease, according to these studies (18, 19, 20).

As you age, amyloid plaques—sticky clumps of amyloid proteins—can accumulate between nerve cells.

They are found in great abundance in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that milk thistle may be used to treat this challenging condition (21).

The effects of milk thistle in people with Alzheimer’s or other neurological disorders including dementia and Parkinson’s have not yet been studied in humans, though.

Furthermore, it’s uncertain whether milk thistle is sufficiently absorbed by humans to allow sufficient amounts to cross the blood-brain barrier. Additionally, it is unclear what dosages would have to be provided for it to be effective (18).

Summary Milk thistle has some intriguing qualities that could make it effective for preserving brain function, according to early test-tube and animal research. It’s not yet known, though, whether it has the same advantageous effects in people.

3. Milk Thistle Might Keep Your Bones Healthy

It typically takes years to develop slowly and results in weak, brittle bones that snap readily, even after small falls.

In experimental investigations on test tubes and animals, milk thistle was found to promote bone mineralisation and may offer protection against bone loss (22, 23).

Because of this, experts believe milk thistle may be an effective treatment for postmenopausal women to stop or delay bone loss (24, 25).

However, there aren’t any human trials available right now, thus its efficacy is still unknown.

Summary Milk thistle has been demonstrated to promote bone mineralisation in animals. Its impact on people, however, is not yet known.

4. It might enhance cancer care

According to some theories, silymarin’s antioxidant properties may also have some anticancer properties, which could be beneficial for those undergoing cancer therapy (9).

According to certain animal studies, milk thistle may help lessen the negative effects of cancer therapies (26, 27, 28).

Additionally, it might improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in treating various malignancies and, in rare cases, even eliminate cancer cells (9, 29, 30, 31).

However, there are very few human trials that have demonstrated a clinically significant benefit in people (32, 33, 34, 35, 36).

This could be as a result of insufficient absorption to produce a therapeutic effect.

Before it can be known how silymarin might benefit those receiving cancer therapy, more research must be done.

In conclusion, studies on animals have demonstrated that milk thistle’s active components enhance the effectiveness of various cancer treatments. Human studies, however, are scarce and haven’t yet demonstrated any positive outcomes.

5. It can increase the flow of breast milk.

One effect of milk thistle is that it may increase nursing women’ ability to produce breast milk. The hormone prolactin, which produces milk, is thought to be produced more frequently by it.

Though there is little information available, one randomised controlled research indicated that women who took silymarin at a dose of 420 mg daily for 63 days made 64% more milk than moms who took a placebo (37).

But there is only one clinical trial accessible right now. These findings and the safety of milk thistle for nursing moms require further study (38, 39, 40).

Though relatively little study has been done to support its effects, milk thistle may help nursing mothers produce more breast milk.

6. It might be used to treat acne

A persistently inflamed skin condition, acne. Although it’s not harmful, it can leave scars. People could also experience pain from it and concern about how it will affect their appearance.

Acne growth may be influenced by oxidative stress in the body, according to some theories (41).

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of milk thistle make it a potential supplement for acne sufferers.

Intriguingly, one study discovered that taking 210 milligrammes of silymarin daily for eight weeks resulted in a 53% reduction in acne lesions among acne sufferers (42).

Summary According to one study, persons who took milk thistle supplements saw a reduction in the number of acne lesions on their bodies.

7. Milk Thistle Can Help People With Diabetes Lower Blood Sugar Levels

The use of milk thistle as a supplemental treatment for type 2 diabetes may be beneficial.

It has been found that one of the milk thistle’s components may function similarly to some diabetes treatments by enhancing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels (43).

Indeed, a recent review and analysis revealed that silymarin users regularly saw large drops in both their fasting blood sugar levels and HbA1c, a marker of blood sugar control (44).

Additionally, milk thistle’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities may help lower the chance of developing diabetes complications including renal disease (43).

However, this assessment also indicated that the studies’ quality was not particularly good, thus further research is required before any solid recommendations can be made (44).

In conclusion, milk thistle may assist persons with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels, but more reliable research is required.

In reality, just 1% of participants in studies using high doses over extended periods of time reported negative effects (1).

Milk thistle side effects are typically digestive disorders including diarrhoea, nausea, or bloating when they are recorded.

When consuming milk thistle, some individuals are advised to exercise caution. These consist of:

  • Pregnant women are typically recommended to avoid this supplement because there is no information on its safety in this population.
  • Those who are allergic to the plant: People who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family may experience an allergic reaction to milk thistle.
  • Diabetes patients may be at risk for low blood sugar due to milk thistle’s blood sugar-lowering properties.
  • Those who have particular conditions: Milk thistle may have estrogenic effects, which could exacerbate disorders that are sensitive to hormones, such as some forms of breast cancer.

In conclusion, milk thistle is typically regarded as secure. However, before using it, those who are pregnant, have an allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family, have diabetes, or have a disease that makes them sensitive to oestrogen should consult a doctor.

A safe dietary supplement, milk thistle has potential as an adjunctive treatment for a number of illnesses, including diabetes, cancer, and liver disease.

However, many of the studies have methodological faults and are tiny, making it challenging to provide definitive advice on this supplement or to validate its effects (46).

To define the dosages and clinical effects of this intriguing herb, more high-quality study is required.