Header Header








Tell me about...

Milk Thistle

What is milk thistle?

Originally from the Mediterranean, milk thistle is now found throughout the world, especially the eastern United States and California. The plant can grow as tall as 10 feet, with broad, wavy leaves; red-purple flowers; and brown, shiny fruit.

Milk thistle products are made from the seeds inside the fruit. These seeds contain a bioflavonoid complex known as silymarin, which provide most of the plant¹s medical benefits. Silymarin is made up of three parts: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. Silibinin is the most active part and is largely responsible for the benefits attributed to silymarin.

Why do we need milk thistle? What is it used for?

The use of milk thistle can be traced back more than 2,000 years, where it was used by early physicians as a remedy for snakebites and jaundice. It was also used by nursing mothers to promote the production of milk.

Placebo-controlled, double blind studies have shown milk thistle extracts to be effective in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, chronic hepatitis and some types of diabetes. Milk thistle also alters bile makeup, which can potentially reduce the risk of gallstones. Other conditions that can be helped by milk thistle include psoriasis, eczema, skin burns, wounds and sores.

How much milk thistle should I take?

Although a recommended daily allowance has yet to be determined, many health experts recommended a dosage of 1-4 grams of dried fruit (seeds) per day; patients can also take a protective dose of 120mg of silymarin daily. For liver disease and impaired liver function, some doctors of natural medicine suggest 420mg of silymarin per day from an herbal extract of milk thistle standardized to 70­80% silymarin content. Improvement should be noted between 8-12 weeks; once that occurs, intake may be reduced to 280mg of silymarin per day for preventive measures.

What forms of milk thistle are available?

Dried milk thistle is readily available in capsule form. Extracts and tinctures of milk thistle can also be found at most health stores. In addition, milk thistle seeds can be ground and eaten or made into a tea.

What can happen if I take too much milk thistle? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

No toxicity has been reported with milk thistle. However, because it can cause increased bile flow and secretion, milk thistle may have a mild laxative effect. In those instances, dietary fiber (in the form of guar gum, psyllium, oat bran or pectin) can be taken to stop loose stools or stomach discomfort.

Other Resources :

The More You Know About Nutrition

Subscribe to "To Your Health" our free e-mail health newsletter.

Ask a DC

Find a Chiropractor Near You


1. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 151­58.
2. Ferenci P, Dragosics B, Dittrich H, et al. Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. J Hepatol 1989;9:105­13.
3. Lirussi F, Okolicsanyi L. Cytoprotection in the nineties: Experience with ursodeoxycholic acid and silymarin in chronic liver disease. Acta Phys Hungarics 1992;80:1­4.
4. Velussi M, Cernigo AM, Viezzoli L, et al. Silymarin reduceshyperinsulinemia, malondialdehyde levels and daily insulin need in cirrhotic diabetic patients. Curr Ther Res 1993;S3:S33­45.
5. Pares A, Plancs R, Torres M, et al. Effects of silymarin in alcoholic patients with cirrhosis of the liver: results of a controlled, double-blind, randomized and multicenter trial. J Hepatol 1998;28:615­21.
6. Nassuato G, Iemmolo RN, et al. Effect of silibinin on biliary lipid composition. Experimental and clinical study. J Hepatol 1991;12:290­95.
7. Palasciano G, Portinascasa P, et al. The effect of silymarin on plasma levels of malondialdehyde in patients receiving long-term treatment with psychotropic drugs. Curr Ther Res 1994;S5:S37­45.


Designed by Dynamic Chiropractic

To report inappropriate ads,click here

Advertising Information | About Us | DC Deals & Events Newsletter | ChiroFind | ChiroPoll | Chiropractic Directory
Chiropractic Mailing Lists | Chiropractic Product Showcase | Classified Advertising | DC News Update Newsletter
Discussion Forums | Event Calendar | For Chiropractic Students | Link to Us | Meet the Staff
Other Sources | Previous Issues | Research Review Newsletter | Site Map | Webcasts

[ Home ] [ Contact Us ]

Other MPA Media Sites:
DynamicChiropractic | DynamicChiropractic Canada | ChiroFind | ToYourHealth | AcupunctureToday
MassageToday | ChiropracticResearchReview | SpaTherapy | NutritionalWellness | NaturopathyDigest

Privacy Policy | User Agreement

All Rights Reserved, Dynamic Chiropractic, 2011.