EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT: Milk Thistle
WHAT IT IS: Milk Thistle, or silybum marianum
Milk thistle is a hardy, prickly plant of the thistle family. It grows easily around the world. It is edible and its leaves are often eaten in a manner similar to artichokes. It can also be made into a potent beverage not unlike coffee. Used for more than 2,000 years, milk thistle was once thought to activate lactation (hence the name).
Milk thistle contains a substance, silymarin, which is a uniquely powerful antioxidant. It stores itself in the liver and can prevent and even reverse damage from toxins like alcohol and painkillers.
STUDIES SHOW: Milk thistle is one of the most thoroughly documented nutrients. Numerous studies support the claim that milk thistle can combat toxic damage in the liver from metals, poisons, alcohol, painkillers, pollution and other contaminants. Importantly, milk thistle has been shown to fight free radical damage – in fact, it appears that milk thistle may actually reverse some signs of oxidation in the liver.
Additionally, dozens of studies show that milk thistle can reduce cholesterol as well as inflammation in the liver. Milk thistle has the ability to fight lipid peroxidation, the process which creates cholesterol in the liver.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We like milk thistle because of its unique potential for benefitting the liver. Though known for being susceptible to damage from excess alcohol, the liver is also easily stressed by today’s diet and lifestyle trends (high in sugar, trans fats, free radicals and drugs). Maintaining liver health is crucial for cholesterol production and metabolism, the body’s inflammatory response, and overall health.
Milk thistle can help to reduce cholesterol and fight free radicals in the liver. This humble leaf also offers broad health benefits: helping to heal tissues, protect against further oxidation, and diminish inflammation.
Because we are inundated with free radicals – as Mark says, it’s a free radical minefield out there – it’s vital to supplement the liver with protective nutrients. And milk thistle is among the best sources for supporting liver health.
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