Milk Thistle is perhaps most famous for its restorative effects on the liver. It is the flavonoid “silymarin” that is thought to be responsible for its beneficial effect on this important organ. Silymarin is a group of compounds – silibinin, silidianin and silicristin – which work together to provide many health benefits, especially protection of the liver.
Milk Thistle was also found to counter other adverse side effects of alcohol on the liver such as; nausea, appetite loss and alcohol induced cirrhosis. Clinical studies have shown that silymarin “improves liver function tests and protects liver cells from oxidative damage in people with alcohol related liver disease”.
Milk Thistle is able to promote healthy digestive function by helping with enzyme formation, decreasing inflammation and improving the health of the mucous membranes in the body. This can reduce inflammatory stress in the bile duct, inhibit the formulation of gall stones and improve the overall function of the gall bladder by allowing for complete bile release.
The effects of Milk Thistle on the kidneys has been said to closely mirror the herbs effects on the liver. Silymarin concentrates in kidney cells where it helps to repair and regenerate protein enzymes and DNA, with one study indicating it increased kidney cell replication by 25% – 30% over control groups.