Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistles are a flowering plant that are most characterized by their wide leaves with many sharp thorns and purple flowering heads. When cut, they emit a milky white sap. While there are an abundance of these plants throughout many parts of the world, they are native to European regions close to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is a flavanoid found in the seeds of the plant. Silymarin is both an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory and can be used for both. It has been used for thousands of years and has a history of being used for gallbladder and liver problems. Milk thistle can be taken as a supplement or added to tea.
There are various studies done to ascertain the health benefits of milk thistle. But any real scientific data always comes up inconclusive. However, that doesn't stop people from taking it. And homeopathic doctors advice their patients to use it.
Many people use milk thistle to help with a variety of liver problems. These can include jaundice, hepatitis, as well as cirrhosis. It is used to treat gallbladder disorders. There are many people who also swear by it for other problems, including lowering cholesterol, helping people with type 2 diabetes, and in the reduction of cancer cells in certain parts of the body, like the prostate, cervix and breast tissue. While there is not real scientific evidence of this, more studies are being conducted.
While most people can take milk thistle for up to 41 months without any problems, there are a few side effects that some people can suffer from.
Some common side effects that affect people are headaches, indigestion, and an itching feeling. Rare side effects are joint pain, heartburn, gas, diarrhea, and in certain cases sexual dysfunction. There are also some people who have certain conditions that shouldn't take milk thistle. If you have allergens to ragweed, it is probably a good idea to avoid taking milk thistle. There have also been some reported cases of people who have gone into anaphylactic shock.
People who are taking diabetes medications and those with hypoglycemia should talk to a doctor before taking supplements because milk thistle is known to have estrogen like effects. Women with fibroid tumors of the uterus should avoid milk thistle as it can counteract the effects of oral contraceptives.
Even after knowing the benefits of milk thistle, consult your doctor first, just as you would with any kind substance that you put in your body. While on the whole it is a good idea to seek alternatives for pharmaceutical drugs, you should do as much research as you can, to make educated choices about your body.