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Supplement Sunday: Milk Thistle

Otherwise known as the herb: Silybum marianum.

Liver Health

Milk Thistle is a herb that has a profound effect on the liver. It has been studied for its effects in treating conditions of the liver such as Hepatitis, Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Liver Cirrhosis and toxin-induced liver diseases.

Silybin (I know kind of a funny name) is the active ingredient responsible for most of its medicinal activity.

Actions include:

  • Antioxidant

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Immuno-modulatory

  • Cellular regeneration

  • Anti-toxin

  • Anti-cancer

Milk Thistle is a potent antioxidant that reduces damage via free radicals and toxins. It has been studied for its ability to reduce liver injury caused by tylenol, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, radiation and viral infections.

When it comes to its anti-toxin activity, Milk Thistle can actually prevent the absorption of toxins into the liver cells as well as preventing damage inside.

It also shows immuno-modulatory properties by partaking in many pathways within our body. It has been shown to prevent many inflammatory immune pathways.

With chronic conditions, when liver cells have been damaged, Milk thistle has been shown to increase our livers ability to make new cells = cellular regeneration.


Milk Thistle has been researched for its anti-cancer effects to. Including being shown to reduce the growth of cancer cells in humans. It has been used in cancer treatment as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiation.


Milk Thistle was historically used in lactation and has more currently been shown to stimulate milk production in breast-feeding mothers.

Milk thistle is known as a safe herb, adverse effects include GIT complaints.

Always consult with a health care physician for inquiries about your own health :)


Abenavoli, L., Capasso, R., Milic, N., & Capasso, F. (2010). Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy Research, 24(10), 1423-1432.

Agarwal, C., Wadhwa, R., Deep, G., Biedermann, D., Gažák, R., Křen, V., & Agarwal, R. (2013). Anti-cancer efficacy of silybin derivatives-a structure-activity relationship. PloS one, 8(3), e60074.

Forinash, A. B., Yancey, A. M., Barnes, K. N., & Myles, T. D. (2012). The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother.Annals of Pharmacotherapy,46(10), 1392-1404.

Hackett, E. S., Twedt, D. C., & Gustafson, D. L. (2013). Milk thistle and its derivative compounds: a review of opportunities for treatment of liver disease. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 27(1), 10-16.

Katiyar, S. K. (2005). Silymarin and skin cancer prevention: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. International journal of oncology, 26(1), 169-176.

Post-White, J., Ladas, E. J., & Kelly, K. M. (2007). Advances in the use of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Integrative cancer therapies, 6(2), 104-109.

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