The holidays are often a time when we tend to overindulge on food and alcohol. This excess can tire the liver and have repercussions throughout the body. Skin becomes dull and greenish, our gaze loses its usual sparkle, bad breath, bloating and fatigue are often the results of a bloated and slow liver. Milk Thistle may provide some precious relief and restore the liver to optimum health.
A little botany Milk thistle, a member of the Compositae family (or Asteraceae), is an annual or biennial plant and flowers in the summer. The mature plant has large purple flowers and shiny green leaves marbled with white veins. Milk thistle is a tall plant, from 50 to 150 cm high and it growths on sunny well-drained soils. The active ingredients are mainly contained in the seeds even though fruits and leaves are also used as medicinal parts. Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, its current distribution includes most temperate areas of the world and is considered invasive in North America. According to legend, the name milk thistle originally derived from its characteristic spiked leaves with white veins, which were believed to carry the milk of the Virgin Mary.
How it works in the body?
Milk thistle is one of the most studied plants in the world. In the last ten years, thousand of papers have been published on the medicinal use of milk thistle extracts. Milk Thistle may just as well regenerate liver cells as protect them from natural and chemical toxins. The active ingredients of milk thistle are collectively named silymarin. This complex includes eight major components, including seven flavonolignans, and one flavonoid. Silymarin possess chemopreventive and hepatoprotective activities, and is used as antipoison agent during Amanita phalloides intoxication. Scientific studies demonstrate that the protection provided by silymarin rests on four activities:
- As antioxidant by scavenging free radicals and by regulating the intracellular content of glutathione (GSH);
- As stabiliser of cell membrane by preventing hepatotoxic agents from entering the hepatocytes;
- By stimulating liver regeneration via the promotion of ribosomal RNA synthesis;
- As inhibitor of process responsible for the deposition of collagen fibres leading to cirrhosis.
Milk Thistle protects the liver from pollutants in general, alcohol, heavy metals and certain hepatotoxic medications. Many studies are examining the protective role of sylimarin and its derivatives against numerous cancers. The results are promising, but more clinical studies are needed to elucidate all the molecular mechanisms involved.
Chose the right product
Opt for a liquid extract rather than a solid one, it will generally be more efficient. Milk Thistle extract should be concentrated and minimally provide 3000 mg of dry plant per day. Due to low water solubility of silymarin, alcohol (ethanol) is added to liquid extract to enhance its bioavailability. Land Art’s Milk-thistle extract is a great choice. The Canadian company uses grain alcohol with an orange oil additive. The final product is 100% natural and pleasant to take. Milk Thistle extract is also useful to aid digestion.
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