Milk thistle’s benefits come from its active compound silymarin. This substance can protect the liver and reverse damage by regenerating cells and tissue. It’s also an antioxidant, so it can kill cancer cells and offer protection from oxidative stress. This anti-cancer effect extends to the skin, as silymarin prevents damage from UV rays. And thanks to silymarin’s anti-inflammatory properties, breakouts and hay fever can be relieved with milk thistle.
Milk thistle’s benefits come from its active compound silymarin. This substance can protect the liver and reverse the damage by regenerating cells and tissues. It’s also an antioxidant, so it can kill cancer cells and offer protection from oxidative stress. This anti-cancer effect extends to the skin, as silymarin prevents damage from UV rays. And thanks to silymarin’s anti-inflammatory properties, breakouts and hay fever can be relieved with milk thistle.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a powerful plant that’s native to the Mediterranean region. It has many active substances, but the most popular one is silymarin. This compound is a potent flavonoid that has amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also responsible for all of the milk thistle benefits on this list! Check out these five different ways that milk thistle can help you out.
5 Benefits Of Milk Thistle
1. Treats Liver Damage
Milk thistle is well-known for its liver benefits. It can treat liver damage from alcoholic or viral hepatitis, along with alcoholic cirrhosis. This is all thanks to the silymarin in it.
Specifically, silymarin can regenerate liver cells and tissue. This doubles as treatment and protection, safeguarding the liver from future damage. No wonder, it’s been used for more than 2,000 years!1
For a detoxifying liver cleanse, drink milk thistle tea. You can also add dandelion and turmeric for added liver benefits.
2. Prevents Cancer
The antioxidant abilities of silymarin can also combat cancer. It prevents cancer cells from dividing, reproducing, and spreading. At the same time, silymarin may also reduce the lifespan of existing cancer cells. For example, a study in Phytotherapy Research found that milk thistle can suppress the migration of cervical cancer cells by killing them.2
Silymarin has also been shown to protect healthy cells from toxins. It does this by stabilizing the membranes, making sure that toxins can’t come through. Even chemotherapy may be more efficient with silymarin.3
3. Protects From Sun
Milk thistle has many benefits when it comes to the skin. When applied topically, milk thistle reduces inflammation and oxidative stress from harmful UV rays. This ultimately wards off photocarcinogenesis, the process that causes skin cancer from sun exposure.
But this doesn’t mean, you should ditch the sunscreen. Instead, milk thistle serves as an ideal supplement to sunscreen. By using these two things together, you can enhance your skin’s protection from the sun.4
4. Treats Acne
This herb can help your skin in other ways. A study in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research found that the antioxidant activity of silymarin can ease breakouts. It does this by decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation, two characteristics of pimples.
In fact, according to the study, the participants’ acne decreased by 54 percent after eight weeks of oral supplementation. This is likely from the silymarin’s ability to stabilize certain immune cells that deal with inflammation.5 So if you’re dealing with breakouts, milk thistle tea or capsules might be for you.
5. Controls Allergies
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. Common symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchiness. Needless to say, it isn’t very fun!
However, according to research in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, milk thistle can help manage those symptoms. Researchers found that taking 140 mg of silymarin three times a day for four weeks can make allergies less severe. So the next time your allergies act up, consider taking milk thistle with your antihistamines.6
Milk Thistle And Dandelion
They might be considered weeds, but milk thistle and dandelion go hand-in-hand. They both have potent liver benefits, especially when taken together. There’s a reason why many liver detox teas and capsules have both!
So if you want better liver benefits, take dandelion with milk thistle.
A Word Of Caution
Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Avoid milk thistle, because it may harm your baby.
You also shouldn’t take this herb if you’ve had hormone-related cancer, like breast or uterine cancer. Silymarin has shown estrogenic effects in animal studies. If this has the same impact on humans, it can be dangerous for your body.7
If you have an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, and daisies, don’t take milk thistle. It’s in the same family as these plants, so they may cause an allergic reaction.
Milk thistle can be found in tea, capsules, tinctures, and extracts. If you decide to take pills, be sure to drink a full glass of water.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Milk Thistle (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. National Cancer Institute.|
|2.||↑||Yu, Hann‐Chin, Li‐Jen Chen, Kai‐Chun Cheng, Ying‐Xiao Li, Ching‐Hua Yeh, and Juei‐Tang Cheng. “Silymarin inhibits cervical cancer cell through an increase of phosphatase and tensin homolog.” Phytotherapy Research 26, no. 5 (2012): 709-715.|
|3, 6, 7.||↑||Milk Thistle. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.|
|4.||↑||Vaid, Mudit, and Santosh K. Katiyar. “Molecular mechanisms of inhibition of photocarcinogenesis by silymarin, a phytochemical from milk thistle (Silybum marianum L. Gaertn.)(Review).” International journal of oncology 36, no. 5 (2010): 1053.|
|5.||↑||Sahib, A. S., H. H. Al-Anbari, M. Salih, and F. Abdullah. “Effects of oral antioxidants on lesion counts associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in patients with papulopustular acne.” J. Clin. Exp. Dermatol. Res 3 (2012): 163.|