Milk thistle has long been touted for being a liver cleanser. It is available in various forms such as powders, capsules, liquids and tinctures.
The scientific name for milk thistle is Silybum marianum. It is a member of the aster or daisy family and has been used by ancient physicians and herbalists to treat a range of liver and gallbladder diseases and to protect the liver against a variety of poisons.
But what do we really know about this herbal supplement?
It is regularly found in a type of an enhancement supplement or concentrate that you can take orally or in tea, yet milk thistle is really a blossoming herb that has been utilized for more than 2000 years as a holistic solution for liver conditions. The medical advantages of milk thistle have been known since ancient times and it was first utilized as a treatment for liver issue by Europeans. It acts as an anti-oxidant and has been said to detoxify your body in natural ways.
Milk thorn can develop in parts of the reality where the atmosphere is warm, and it very well may be found in southern Europe, southern Russia, Asia Minor, North Africa, and in North and South America also. Milk thorn is a herb that has a place with the daisy family and it has red to purple blossoms and green leaves. At the point when its leaves are squashed, a white smooth liquid turns out, and that is the means by which this plant got its name. In spite of the fact that it is a plant, most don’t consume it as such, because supplements produced from the plant make it viable commercially.
While some sites claim that there are few or little studies showing outcomes of milk thistle, our research found otherwise.
So to avoid being biased in the research we looked at both sides of the coin, good and bad.
The 2008 Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment Against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that hepatitis C patients who used Milk Thistle had fewer and milder symptoms of liver disease and somewhat better quality of life but no change in virus activity or liver inflammation.
A 2012 clinical trial, co funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, showed that two higher-than-usual doses of Milk Thistle were no better than placebo for chronic hepatitis C in people who had not responded to standard antiviral treatment.
Acute viral hepatitis A and B
In 1978, Magliulo and associates found that after 5 days, mean levels of AST, ALT, and total bilirubin were significantly lower in the milk thistle group compared to placebo. At 3 weeks, milk thistle group showed significant normalization of bilirubin and AST compared to placebo. The authors concluded that it can be indicated for use in the treatment of acute viral hepatitis
Results from a 2013 clinical study suggest that milk thistle may enhance standard treatment in young people with a particular form of anemia (Cooley’s anemia).
Parés and his researchers found in 1998 that compared to placebo, milk thistle extract had no significant effect on the course of disease after 2 years of treatment.
Milk thistle did not improve survival rates, liver function tests, or histological parameters in patients with severe and acute alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver. Also, they noted that there were “no significant side effects” found during the research.
Alcohol Liver Disease
In 2009, researchers found milk thistle tends to normalise liver function tests in alcoholic liver disease
In 1992, Bunout and researchers found that compared to placebo, milk thistle did not change the evolution of mortality of alcoholic liver disease within 15 months. 10 patients died during follow-up (5 milk thistle and 5 placebo).
In the milk thistle group 58% continued to drink alcohol during trial and follow-up; 65% in the control group continued to drink alcohol. However, the authors did note higher doses used in other studies gave positive results.
A study done in 1989, found that milk thistle significantly normalized serum bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and alanine-aminotransferase (ALT) values. The authors concluded that milk thistle can be recommended as supportive therapy in chronic alcohol disease.
In 1982, researchers found that after 4 weeks, milk thistle caused a highly significant (30%) decrease in mean serum AST levels compared to a 5% increase in placebo group. ALT levels decreased by 41% in the milk thistle group and increased 3% with placebo. Milk thistle decreased bilirubin more than the placebo, but not at a statistically significant level.
In 1980, two lads Fintelmann and Albert found that treatment with milk thistle caused AST, ALT, and GGT levels to normalize significantly and much sooner (13 vs. 24 days) than placebo. Significant differences were evident after 1 week.
How should I consume milk thistle?
We recommend tablets or capsules so you know the exact dosage that you are consuming. When buying supplements, you should always choose standardized and reliable products. Because they will give you a more reliable dose of the product. When taking capsules or tablets drink them with a full glass of water and take them as indicated on the package, and the safest way is to always consult a healthcare professional first.
How much should I take?
There is no standardized dosage yet, but the range for recommended dosage is between 280 to 800 milligrams of silymarin, which constitutes 70-80% milk thistle extract. Most often, recommendations suggest taking 100-200 milligrams per day with your meals.
However, if you are looking for the exact dosages used in the positive results above, start with these:
Acute viral hepatitis A and B – 420 mg per day split into three pills for 21–28 days. Then re-evaluate your blood work.
Alcohol Liver Disease – 420 mg per day split into three pills. Taken for 4 weeks with 3 additional re-examinations 1, 2, and 3 weeks after start of the trial (alcohol abstinence required during the trial).
How Do I Know If It’s Working?
If you know your blood works around your liver then that’s a good starting point. The issue is that most of us don’t have all of our blood work or we find it too expensive and time consuming to go do it.
Think of your blood work as a story. If you only have a page at a time given to you every year, two years or more – it makes that story hard to follow. Your risk factors are always changing and tracking lets you see what’s changing and how fast.
That means more options for earlier intervention and treatment.
If you don’t have anything, sign up for the Lab Me Crucial Liver & Heart Check. It’s affordable, convenient and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Try one of the protocols above and see if your GGT is improving.
Lab Me isn’t a substitute for medical care. Lab Me is not a diagnostic facility. We provide you with the information you can use in conjunction with your healthcare provider.