In our earlier article, we had talked about the importance of our livers. In this article, we will explore the use of a natural remedy, milk thistle in liver detox.
The use of milk thistle as a natural liver aid dates back over 2000 years. Milk thistle is said to have the remarkable ability to protect the liver against toxins. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to utilise milk thistle once again as an aid to alleviate symptoms of alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis, and drug and alcohol-induced liver damage.
The seeds of the milk thistle plant contain silymarin; a group of three flavonoids called silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. These work in concert to strengthen the outer membranes of liver cells and reduce the number of toxins entering the cells.
In addition, milk thistle stimulates protein synthesis, which helps to regenerate damaged liver tissues and reduce inflammation. Further, milk thistle is said to be one of the most effective herbs at stimulating the production and flow of bile, which helps to break down excess fat and prevents it from accumulating in the liver. Bile is also essential for the elimination of toxins from the body.
Milk thistle is said to aid those who occasionally overindulge on fatty foods or alcoholic drinks by detoxifying chemicals and toxins that accumulate in the body, accelerate the regeneration of liver cells, and improve liver function over time.
For best results, combine milk thistle with a liver cleansing diet loaded with garlic, green tea, apples, avocados, olive oil, lemons and whole grains. Also, try to reduce your intake of fatty, processed and refined foods that place further demands on the liver. Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive toxins from coffee and alcohol.
While modern studies of the effects of this natural remedy have so far been inconclusive, it is thought to be safe to take even if it is not a cure. Milk thistle has a very gentle nature and is a safe option for the treatment of many liver-related ailments. The extract is generally well tolerated, with only rare and mild side effects reported, such as headaches, stomach upset and nausea. The herb has also been used by pregnant women with no reported toxic effects. That said, it is still prudent to consult with a medical professional prior to using milk thistle if you are pregnant or nursing.
However, due to its mild estrogenic effect, people with a history of hormone-related cancers should use milk thistle with caution and always under the supervision of a doctor.
Herbs may interact with certain medications and so should be cleared by a medical professional first.