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Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (silymarin) is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family. It is native to Mediterranean countries. Some people also call it Mary thistle and holy thistle.

What Is Milk Thistle Used For?

People have traditionally used milk thistle for problems with the liver and gallbladder . Experts believe silymarin is the primary active ingredient of the herb. Silymarin is an antioxidant compound taken from milk thistle seeds. It’s unclear what benefits, if any, it may have in the body, but it’s sometimes used as a natural treatment for things including cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladder disorders.

Some claim milk thistle may also:

  • Provide heart benefits by lowering cholesterol levels
  • Help diabetes in people who have type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis

Is Milk Thistle Good for the Liver?

There’s conflicting research on the benefits of milk thistle for liver health. It may have protective effects on the liver, preventing damage. There’s some evidence that milk thistle can treat cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis, which can be caused by alcohol abuse, autoimmune disease, or viruses. But experts say that the evidence isn’t conclusive.

Some studies also show milk thistle may help people whose liver is damaged by industrial toxins, such as toluene and xylene.

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