Milk Thistle: Herbal Medications, What Works
A bristly plant native to the Mediterranean, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has a long history of medicinal use in Europe. It was used in Greco-Roman times for a variety of ailments, particularly liver problems.
Milk thistle must be prepared in standardized, concentrated form to protect the liver. Preparations of milk thistle are generally standardized to a concentration of 70 to 80 percent of several substances known collectively as silymarin. This concentration of silymarin is required to avoid destruction by gastric fluids.
Germany's Commission E recommends daily doses equivalent to 200 to 400 mg of silymarin, and approves the use of silymarin to treat toxic liver damage, and as supportive treatment in chronic inflammatory liver disease and hepatic cirrhosis. Some 120 clinical studies have been done.
Milk thistle changes the structure of the outer membrane of liver cells, preventing toxins from entering the cells. It also stimulates the formation of new liver cells.
Milk thistle extract has been shown in clinical studies to be effective for hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, and liver damage from exposure to harmful chemicals. It has also been successfully employed to prevent or treat poisoning by the death cap mushroom.
Treatment of liver damage due to alcohol is one of the most effective uses of silymarin.
Some forms of hepatitis have responded to treatment with silymarin.
Milk thistle has become a popular dietary supplement in the United States. Milk thistle extracts are being used by many people to promote proper liver function and to aid detoxification. Future research may explore the use of milk thistle extract as an adjunct to cancer chemotherapy.
From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier. All Rights Reserved.