Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Milk Thistle: Herbal Remedies


©2007 Publications International Milk thistle plays an important role in herbal remedies for liver health.

Milk thistle is among the elite handful of herbs that have made their way into modern hospitals. Many victims of mushroom poisoning receive milk thistle preparations to help prevent the poisons from damaging the liver. Milk thistle is also used in herbal remedies for liver conditions and liver health.

Uses of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a potent antioxidant: Research has found that it significantly increases levels of glutathione, which the liver uses to detoxify and metabolize harmful substances. In fact, milk thistle is used primarily to treat liver disorders, including cirrhosis and those caused by exposure to liver-damaging substances (such as alcohol and other drugs and the aforementioned poison mushrooms). The flavonoids in milk thistle appear to repair damaged liver cells, protect existing cells, and stimulate production of new liver cells. From a nasty hangover to a case of hepatitis, milk thistle helps the liver.

Milk thistle extracts have a preventive and therapeutic effect when taken orally and work particularly well when injected intravenously. The benefits of milk thistle extracts are demonstrated by reducing the incidence of changes in the liver due to alcohol consumption, alleviating symptoms in those with alcoholic liver disease and hepatitis, and by improved liver function tests.

Keep reading to learn about milk thistle warnings and preparation, including a recipe for milk thistle-seaweed garnish.

To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.


More to Explore