Milk thistle may be useful in treating some liver and digestive disorders, according to some evidence, but research into its health benefits is still ongoing.
For instance, one study discovered that milk thistle was effective in minimizing the harm that alcohol consumption caused to the liver. Other studies have indicated that milk thistle may assist in reducing inflammation and protecting the liver from toxins.
Additionally, milk thistle is occasionally used as a complementary medicine for heartburn and indigestion. One study found that taking milk thistle supplements helped people with indigestion experience less bloating, gas, and stomach pain.
Side Effects and Safety
When consumed in the recommended dosages, milk thistle is generally regarded as safe. However, it may also result in adverse reactions like bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
As a result, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using milk thistle. It is significant to note that milk thistle may interact with specific medications.
Milk thistle can harm the liver when consumed in large doses. In order to avoid exceeding the daily maximum of 1 gram, it is crucial to only take the recommended dosage. For women who are expecting or nursing, milk thistle is not advised.
Mechanism of Action
Milk thistle contains silymarin, a flavonoid that functions as an antioxidant and is the main active component. By preventing toxins from entering cells and promoting protein synthesis, silymarin is thought to protect the liver.
Additionally, it's believed that silymarin has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. These potential health advantages will, however, need to be confirmed by additional research.
Dosage and Preparation
Supplements containing milk thistle can be found as tablets, capsules, tinctures, and teas. The dosage is dependent upon the milk thistle supplement you are taking.
The typical dosage for tablets or capsules, for instance, is 200–400 milligrams (mg) three times daily. The dosage for tinctures is 1-2 ml three times daily. Additionally, 1-2 grams of dried herb should be steeped in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes when making tea.
Before taking milk thistle, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional to make sure you're getting the right dosage. The use of milk thistle during pregnancy or while nursing is not advised.
Some medications, including blood thinners, diabetes medications, and chemotherapy drugs, may interact with milk thistle. It is therefore best to consult a healthcare professional before using this herb.
The following medicines may interact with milk thistle:
Blood thinners: Warfarin (Coumadin), among other blood thinners, may be made more effective by milk thistle.
Medications for diabetes: Milk thistle may lower blood sugar. If you start taking milk thistle while taking diabetes medication, you may need to adjust your dosage.
Chemotherapy medications: Milk thistle may make some chemotherapy medications less effective. Therefore, it's crucial to consult your doctor before taking milk thistle if you are receiving chemotherapy.
Milk thistle is quickly absorbed from the gut and reaches its peak blood levels in 1-2 hours. The liver then metabolizes silymarin, the active component of milk thistle, and excretes it in the urine.
Silymarin has a half-life of about 2-3 hours, which means it takes the body 6–9 hours to eliminate half of the medication. In order to maintain stable blood levels, milk thistle should be taken several times throughout the day.