February 2, 2023

Pinoy Trekker

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Studies show the main health benefits of milk thistle

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — also known as milk thistle and holy thistle — is a common flowering herb1 in the Asteraceae family. For many people, the plant is nothing more than an invasive weed. Nonetheless, the herb has remarkable medicinal value. It has been used in traditional Chinese, European and Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years.2 It is prized for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties.

Some people consider planting it at home, but you’ll need to check with your local grow-op to make sure it’s not banned in your area. If you are allowed to plant them, be aware that milk thistle is very invasive and can spread quickly in your yard and your neighbor’s.

A single flower head has almost 200 seeds that can germinate in temperatures between 32 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the plant is established, it is difficult, if not impossible, to stop it from spreading. It’s also important to note that milk thistle is poisonous to livestock, so it’s dangerous to plant it near farms that raise cows or sheep.

Milk thistle’s medicinal properties are attributed to a chemical compound known as silymarin. This is a group of flavonoids that have multiple health benefits. Although all parts of the plant are edible, silymarin is only found in the seeds.

The herb was known for centuries as a liver tonic due to the active ingredient’s liver-protecting properties. The researchers theorized that the mechanism of silymarin’s active cell protection is an adaptation of cell transporters, estrogen and nuclear receptors. It has also been found to inhibit apoptosis.3 Using a milk thistle supplement is not for everyone.4