What Is Milk Thistle?

What Is Milk Thistle?

The milk thistle plant is a popular herb that has actually been used for over 2,000 years. In fact, Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides was the first to describe milk thistle’s healing properties back in the year 40 A.D.

 

This healing herb gets its name from the milky-white liquid that runs off of the plant’s leaves when they’re crushed. The actual leaves of the plant also have a spotted white pattern that makes them look as if they’ve been dunked in milk. It’s also known as St. Mary’s thistle, holy thistle and silybum.

 

Milk thistle is commonly used for everything from weight loss to skin health to promoting breast milk production. However, while there are many different potential benefits, it is most well-known for being a natural liver supporter and is sometimes used to help treat liver diseases such as cirrhosis, jaundice and hepatitis, as well as gallbladder problems.

 

Liver Detoxification and Health

As a liver support and liver aid, milk thistle acts as a powerful liver cleanser by rebuilding liver cells, reducing liver damage and removing toxins from the body that are processed through the liver.

 

Milk thistle is effective at naturally reversing toxicity in the body, including the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides in our food supply, and heavy metals in our water supply and pollution in the air that we breathe.

 

The liver is actually our largest internal organ and is responsible for performing a number of essential detoxifying functions. The condition of our blood throughout our whole body is mostly reliant on the health of our liver.

 

The liver helps remove toxicity and harmful substances from our blood, aids in hormone production, detoxifies the body, releases sugar into the bloodstream in order to give our body steady energy and secretes bile into our small intestine so fat can be absorbed from foods. You can see why liver problems and poor liver function can create so many problems!

 

Milk thistle has been historically used for a variety of liver diseases, including:

  • alcoholic liver disease
  • acute and chronic viral hepatitis
  • toxin-induced liver diseases

 

May Help Prevent Gallstones

The liver is a major digestive organ, which helps process nutrients and toxins that enter our body through foods, water and air.

 

Because the liver and other digestive organs, like the gallbladder, pancreas, intestines and kidneys, work closely together to improve liver health, milk thistle is also able to help prevent gallstones and kidney stones.

 

Although research on this topic is limited, because of milk thistle’s ability to increase bile flow, protect against liver conditions like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and promote liver detoxification, it may be useful in the prevention of gallstones.

 

Gallstones are formed when cholesterol and other matter within your bile bind together. This is problematic because they can become more solid and get lodged in the inner lining of your gallbladder.