Like all our organs, the liver works tirelessly to support the human body and maintain our well- being. Among other things, this vital organ is responsible for filtering and detoxifying harmful substances, processing nutrients, and aiding digestion. However, in our fast-paced, stressful world, the liver can get bombarded by unhealthy diets, toxins and stress hormones. That’s why this article will explore how milk thistle - a natural herb - can benefit the liver and help it thrive despite the challenges our bodies face.
The Importance of Liver Health
Before looking into the benefits of milk thistle, it's crucial to understand why our livers are so important. This organ performs critical tasks in our bodies, such as metabolising nutrients, filtering blood, storing essential vitamins and minerals, and breaking down toxins. What’s more, our livers are also responsible for dealing with hormones after they have served their purpose. Sadly, if our livers become weighed down with inflammation or excessive toxins, we might develop liver conditions or even hormonal imbalances, which can affect our entire health.
That’s why caring for our livers’ health is essential for general health and wellness. In fact, caring for our livers leads to improved immunity, nutrient absorption, energy levels, digestion, and much more.
How Milk Thistle Supports Liver Health
Milk thistle is a fairly common flowering herb from the daisy and ragweed family. Further, people have used its flowers, seeds and leaves for centuries as a medicinal treatment for liver-related issues. And though the entire herb is useful, milk thistle seeds contain the most concentrated benefits for the body and liver.
The milk thistle herb contains an active compound named silymarin which is extremely helpful for the liver. For instance, since silymarin is a powerful antioxidant, it exerts protective effects on the liver against damaging free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can attack cells, damaging or destroying proteins, fats and other cellular building blocks. However, silymarin’s antioxidant properties neutralise these harmful molecules, which prevents liver issues from developing.
Still, a primary benefit of milk thistle is that it supports liver detoxification. This is because silymarin can also shield liver cells from toxin damage and eliminate unhealthy substances from the body. This herb also has a powerful anti-inflammatory capacity. The body often responds to liver damage with inflammation, which can cause a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation and liver problems. However, milk thistle can help to calm inflammation everywhere, including the liver. By doing this, milk thistle can encourage better liver function and protect it from inflammation-induced conditions.
In a similar way, milk thistle can also help prevent liver conditions, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, while supporting the healing process. Its powerful combination of antioxidant, regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties can alleviate symptoms, slow disease progression, and enhance liver performance.
Lastly, milk thistle can help liver cells renew and repair. Our livers take on a lot of stress, but fortunately, they can repair themselves naturally. Still, the reparation and regeneration process can be stunted or slowed down due to poor diet, stressful lifestyles and much more. However, silymarin can combat this by encouraging liver cell regeneration, supporting its overall function and structure.
Potential Benefits of Milk Thistle for Liver Conditions
Milk thistle has many potential benefits for liver conditions, as it can help the liver recover and heal. Below, we’ll examine how milk thistle can target specific liver conditions.
Fatty Liver Diseases: Fatty liver disease, including the non-alcoholic variety (NAFLD), leads to a build-up of fat in the liver cells. This can eventually cause liver enlargement, inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption is one cause of fatty liver disease, while NAFLD usually results from poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, stress and obesity. This is one reason fatty liver diseases are becoming increasingly common, even for those who don’t drink much alcohol. However, milk thistle can help the liver fight or prevent this disease altogether. The silymarin extract from milk thistle reduces liver enzyme levels, which indicates improved liver function and less fat accumulation in the organ.
Hepatitis: Hepatitis is an inflammatory liver condition which is caused by viral infections (hepatitis A, B, C, etc.), alcohol abuse, or autoimmune diseases. Milk thistle's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant elements minimise inflammation and support liver repair, helping the liver recover and grow healthier new cells. Milk thistle also protects cells from more damage and can give the liver a needed boost alongside other healing treatments and therapies.
Cirrhosis: This is often the result of long-term liver diseases or excessive, chronic alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis is essentially liver scarring - each time the liver is damaged or injured, it repairs itself and creates scar tissue. If the disease or alcoholism persists, scar tissue keeps forming in the liver, negatively impacting how it functions. While milk thistle may not reverse cirrhosis, it can slow it and even prevent further harm to the liver. Milk thistle also has some anti-fibrotic effects, which may help reduce fibrous scar tissue and stop it from forming in the liver.
Incorporating Milk Thistle into Your Routine
Milk thistle comes in several forms, including tablets, tinctures and teas. Each can benefit the liver, so choosing a form that suits your lifestyle and health condition is best. For instance, milk thistle tablets are easy to incorporate into your routine and are more potent than teas. They also have standardised concentrations, meaning you receive a consistent amount each time. Most supplement providers will specify the correct dosage, but speak to your medical practitioner if you’re uncertain.
However, some have trouble swallowing tablets and prefer taking tinctures or liquid supplements instead. Our milk thistle tincture is easy to swallow and simple to include in your day-to-day. The extraction process concentrates the benefits of milk thistle seeds, allowing for maximum absorption. We recommend taking thirty drops twice daily on an empty stomach for the most effective results. Further, you can dilute it in water or juice according to your tastes. Another thing to remember is that tinctures have more bioavailability than tablets. This is because the compounds are already dissolved in liquid form, giving your body less processing
Some may also benefit from milk thistle tea, usually made with flowers and leaves rather than seeds. Because of this, milk thistle tea is often less potent, and you can drink it in moderation without specific dosage requirements.
With any milk thistle supplement, it’s essential to remember that quality matters. When choosing capsules or teas, search for ones with high quality and purity standards. For example, our tincture uses the highest quality, locally-grown milk thistle recognised globally for its purity.
Milk thistle has earned its place as a natural ally for liver health thanks to its immense benefits - from antioxidant action to liver cell regeneration. It’s important to note that supplements like milk thistle should never replace a varied diet, and it's vital to consult a healthcare professional if you have a severe liver condition. Still, by using milk thistle in your routine, you can equip your liver with the nutrients it needs to combat damage and stress. With a balanced approach, milk thistle can assist your liver with healing and recovery, helping you support this incredible organ and your entire body.