What are the milk thistle benefits to the liver and other cells of the human body? How can milk thistle extract help your health? How often should I take milk thistle herb?
Some of the benefits of the milk thistle herb have been known for centuries. Others have been discovered more recently. Most of the traditional uses and some of the newer ones have to do with the benefit to the liver. Milk thistle extract was recognized as a liver tonic by a variety of different traditional healers. In the herbal community, it is still used for this purpose and there is scientific evidence supporting this use.
The active compound in the herb is known as silymarin. Studies concerning the medicinal uses of silymarin have been conducted in numerous countries since the 1970s. There are over 300 published studies relating milk thistle benefits on Pub-Med and another 800 relating silymarin. Why all of this interest? There are several reasons, here's one.
We do not have good prescription drugs to treat cirrhosis, hepatitis or toxin-induced liver damage. These diseases are considered chronic and degenerative. If the milk thistle herb can protect the liver from these diseases, then we have a new choice of treatment. Several clinical trials are on-going. The results of one were published in late 2008. The researchers concluded that one of the benefits is that it improves liver function in people with HIV and hepatitis C. Other researchers have disagreed, but at the very least, it seems to be a beneficial health supplement.
Many prescription drugs are toxic to the liver and some of the chemicals that people are exposed to in their workplaces, including toluene, are known to cause liver-toxicity, as well. In one study, workers who had been exposed to these chemical vapors for 5-20 years were given silymarin. There was a significant improvement in the functions of their liver. This study and another like it seem to prove the effectiveness of this herb for supporting the health of the liver.
But, many of the recent studies concern milk thistle benefits for farming or preventing cancer. It has been shown in the laboratory that silymarin targets a number of different molecules that play a role in the development of and the progress of cancer. This is not unlike the anti-cancer activity of other plant extracts.
Occasionally, researchers may be able to tell us what ingredients to look for to greatly reduce our cancer risk. They have already come up with a short list, including green tea, resveratrol, turmeric, grape seed and milk thistle extract. Then there are the nutrients that also reduce the cancer risk. These include vitamin D and calcium. There were many studies suggesting that vitamin C and E were beneficial for that purpose, too, but large scale trials indicate that they are not effective. Some antioxidants, such as those found in grape seed extract are much more potent than vitamin C or E.
Acting as an antioxidant is one of the milk thistle benefits to everyone. Our bodies really can not get enough of them. For more information please see Milk_Thistle_Extract.html
Thank You, Larry L. Taylor