Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) supports hormonal balance. It is one of the best plants for liver health. Liver health is vital for hormonal balance. The liver helps to filter toxins from the body, including excess hormones. It is also commonly called Blessed Thistle, St. Mary’s Thistle, Marian Thistle, and Holy Thistle. The name Milk Thistle comes from its milky sap. Traditionally it is associated with increasing breast milk production, which may be another reason for its name.
Liver Cleansing and Renewal
The plant part used is the seed. Milk Thistle Seed Extract is part of our Fertility Cleanse Kits for both women and men. It is part of these kits because Milk Thistle Seed’s stimulate the liver to cleanse itself, while also stimulating it to renew liver cells. Milk Thistle seeds also stimulate the liver and gallbladder to secrete bile, aiding in digestion. Milk Thistle is the most protective plant for liver health! In fact, it is so protective of liver health, it is used to save people from Death Cap mushroom poisoning. It is also used to heal and protect the livers of people who have undergone chemotherapy.
The liver is our chemical processing plant. So you can imagine what must go on in there. The liver removes hormones, drugs, and other biologically active molecules from the blood. It then converts these by changing their structure or inactivating them, through different processes, and then excretes these to be passed through the kidneys. If there are too many excess toxins and hormones overwhelming the liver, they may be stored up, not only in the liver, but other parts of our body. Milk Thistle gives our liver the support and renewal it needs to function at its best!
Silymarin in Milk Thistle Protects the Liver
Silymarin is the main constituent in Milk Thistle that protects liver health. This is only one constituent (part, or chemical compound) found in Milk Thistle. Some people believe that your Milk Thistle product should have at least 420mg of Silymarin to be effective. Unless your product has gone through a processing plant that has scientific researchers testing each batch for chemical constituents in the plant, and then reporting that to the company to put on a label, there is no way to determine how much Silymarin is in each tablet. As an herbalist, my personal opinion on this is that Milk Thistle seeds are best taken in a tincture form (liquid extract), like the one we sell in our Natural Fertility Shop. Milk Thistle seeds are very hard, and hard to digest in capsule or tablet form. Grain Alcohol is the best way to extract the medicinal properties, including Silymarin in Milk Thistle.
There have been some studies on Silymarin in Milk Thistle. These were performed to see why Milk Thistle was helpful to the liver; they found that Silymarin was the main part of the plant that aids the liver in cleansing and regeneration.
- Animal studies in the German Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, Planta Med., found that Milk Thistle combats oxidative stress and increases glutathione content (enhancing detoxification) throughout the digestive tract, including the liver. Glutathione is a key antioxidant, “nature’s master antioxidant and detoxifier”, for the liver. Researchers at the Department of Gastroenterology, Cisanello Hospital, Pisa, Italy, report evidence from experimental research and clinical studies that glutathione holds promise for those needing to recover from oxidative stress-induced liver damage.
- Researchers from Alagappa University in India have found based on their work that “The antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity of flavonoids like silymarin… novel therapeutic strategies against environmental contaminant exposure.”
- The Liver-protecting properties of Milk Thistle in part stem from the flavonid silibinin, which has been found to boost the activity of Kupffer cells (liver cells important in the liver’s response to pathogens). Kupffer cells are known inhibit the inflammatory molecules called leukotrienes, and are “critical mediators of both liver injury and repair.” (Journal: Hepatology)
Findings like these popularized Silymarin and many products are now sold with this name, rather than by Milk Thistle. Personally, I feel that using a whole plant part ensures you are receiving the wide variety of medicinal benefits from the plant, rather than isolating one part of it.
Why Milk Thistle Seed Should Be a Part of Your Natural Fertility Plan
- Stimulates liver regeneration and cleansing.
- Flushes excess hormones from the liver.
- Flushes toxins from the liver.
- Heals the liver from toxin damage from alcohol, car exhaust, chemical pollution, etc.
- A clean liver aids in hormonal balance.
- Protects the liver from future toxin damage.
- Some research shows it is helpful for people with insulin resistance, including PCOS and type 2 diabetes.
Milk Thistle Increases Breast Milk Production
Fast forward, you are now pregnant and looking forward to meeting your baby. Are you planning to breastfeed? If so (highly recommended), consider having some Milk Thistle Seed Extract on hand in order to help support ample amounts of healthy breast milk for your baby! Milk Thistle has also been found to chase depression away. This makes it very helpful in preventing the baby blues, or postpartum depression.
General Suggested Dosage (for both women and men): 30 drops, 2-3 times a day in a little water.
Milk Thistle has been shown safe for use long-term. It can be made into a tea, but I find it works best as a liquid extract. To see Milk Thistle Extract, click here…
Use in pregnancy: Rated as B1. No harmful effects have been reported from limited use in women. No harmful effects were reported in pregnant animal studies. Please check with your healthcare provider about continued use in pregnancy.
Cautions: If you are allergic to any plants in the Compositae family (daisy) family, avoid this plant.
Additional Thoughts on Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle Seed Extract is one herb I like to have in my home at all times. We are constantly bombarded with toxins daily; our liver takes on a lot of stress. Milk Thistle Extract helps me to know that I am protecting my liver, which allows me to not have to worry as much about the damage being done to it.
If you love to grow plants like I do, you may be interested in growing your own Milk Thistle. Watch out though, this plant is a real pricker. Compared to the normal roadside thistles around, Milk Thistle’s spines are much stronger, longer, and hurt a lot more to be pricked by. Wear thick gardening gloves when handling this plant. It is a beautiful thistle, with a bright purple flower, variegated white and green leaves and spines at the tip of the leaves and below the flower head. The young leaves are also nourishing and protective to the liver. The young flowering tops have a heart that can be eaten; it is said to taste much like an artichoke heart, though I cannot attest to this. At the end of summer as the plants seed are ready, be even more cautious of the spines. As the plant tops begin to dry and die off for the year, the spines become even harder and thinner. If you don’t handle it properly (I know) it feels like a thousand needles are stabbing into you. Literally, it is probably close to this, okay maybe more like hundreds, but still, it hurts!
- Van De Graff, Fox, La Fleur. (1997). Synopsis of Human Anatomy and Physiology. Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
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- Valenzuela, A., Sspillaga, M., Vial, S. and Guerra, R. (1989). Selectivity of Silymarin on the Increase of the Glutathione Content in Different Tissues of the Rat. Planta Med 1989; 55(5): 420-422. DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-962056. Retrieved from https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2006-962056
- Kiruthiga, P.V., Beam Shafreen, R., Karutha Pandian, S. and Pandima Devi, K. (17 April 2007). Silymarin Protection against Major Reactive Oxygen Species Released by Environmental Toxins: Exogenous H2O2 Exposure in Erythrocytes. BCPT [Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicilogy]. Volume100, Issue6. Pages 414-419. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1742-7843.2007.00069.x
- Dehmlow, C., Erhard, J and de Groot, H. (April 1996). Inhibition of Kupffer cell functions as an explanation for the hepatoprotective properties of silibinin. Hepatology. 1996 Apr;23(4):749-54. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8666328