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Articles > Bodybuilding Supplements > Milk Thistle Basics
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Milk Thistle has the advantage of being a potent antioxidant; it assists in caring for and revitalizing your liver, and may disrupt recirculation of poisons. Long believed to be the natural world's leading herbal liver-health aid, Milk Thistle has been used as a liver tonic in Europe for centuries. According to some studies, it can stop and even undo early phase liver injury in recovering alcoholics.

Milk Thistle has definite protective benefits for liver tissue, and it is laden with silymarin, an antioxidant flavonoid compound. It defends and restores the liver in most illnesses such as Cirrhosis, Jaundice, Hepatitis and Cholangitis. Anybody who is under pressure, uses alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription medicine (especially antibiotics), or lives in our contemporary era of pesticides, environmental contaminants and toxic waste can profit from this amazing herb.

One of the extraordinary traits of Milk Thistle is that if your liver is overloaded and sluggish it will clean and detoxify it, and if it is weak it will make it stronger. Detoxification is a continuing process that takes place in your liver, kidneys, intestines, lymph glands, and blood, and in every cell. Your liver is not capable of totally cleansing your body of poisons, especially if the volume is high; or else its energy will be used up processing and sorting the incoming contaminants rather than getting rid of them.

Conventional medication has little to offer those with liver illnesses. However, Milk Thistle's value against liver ailments has been confirmed in more than 100 thorough scientific tests. Here is a short outline of what these studies have revealed:
Alcoholic Cirrhosis. Milk Thistle extract significantly reduces the death rate of persons afflicted with Alcoholic Cirrhosis of the liver.
Death cap mushroom poisoning. In one German hospital test, 60 successive people with mushroom poisoning were given intravenous Milk Thistle extract. None died.
Hepatitis. Milk Thistle extract shortens the recovery time for Hepatitis by an average of two weeks.
Gallstones. Milk Thistle extract helps to prevent gallstones.
Liver function tests. Milk Thistle extract normalizes liver function letting those who must take liver-harming medicine do so with reduced danger of liver injury.
Occupational toxic chemical exposure. Milk Thistle extract renormalizes liver function tests in factory employees who manufacture pesticides, and in those exposed to poisonous heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.
Psoriasis. Some European studies propose that Milk Thistle extract may even aid the healing of the flaky skin patches of psoriasis.1

Though it is now cultivated all through the temperate world, milk thistle is indigenous to the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan. Milk thistles grow as annual or biennial plants. Only two species are recognized at present: Silybum eberneum, branded as the Silver Milk Thistle, the Elephant Thistle or the Ivory Thistle and Silybum marianum, the Blessed Milk Thistle, which has a quantity of other common names.

The Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder wrote that the plant's cloudy liquid was good for "carrying off bile" in the first century, and Milk Thistle has been used as a traditional herbal remedy since then. How does Milk Thistle work?

1. It fuels protein production, which is a factor in renewal and replacement of liver cells.
2. It assists in shielding the liver against contamination by blocking the absorption of poisons.
3. It slows down the creation of inflammatory matter that contributes to liver deterioration.
4. It helps the liver break down toxins.
5. Milk Thistle is a potent antioxidant.
6. It boosts intracellular levels of glutathione, a substance essential to detoxification.2

US study of herbal medication declined significantly with the growth of the modern pharmaceutical industry. However, many drugs used today have considerable liver toxicity. If you have been medicated with antibiotics, cortisone, chemotherapy, anti-seizure medicine, or anti-inflammatory drugs, or if you have had other liver troubles, you should consider a course of Milk Thistle. A standardized (70 or 80% silybin) product works best.

Loose stools may occasionally occur when you take Milk Thistle. Get in touch with your doctor or pharmacist if you observe other effects. Check with your doctor prior to using Milk Thistle if you have liver or stomach/intestinal problems. Caution is recommended if you have diabetes or alcohol dependence as fluid preparations of Milk Thistle may contain sugar and/or alcohol.

Milk Thistle has no contraindications and no dosage time limits, and research on it appears to be growing. In a 1989 study, 87 patients with cirrhosis received 140 mg of silymarin (Milk Thistle extract) three times a day for an average of 41 months. No side effects were observed. The present theory concerning mode of activity is that it supports liver well-being in two chief ways. First, it changes the outer cell membrane in such a way as to stop diffusion of damaging matter to the interior of cells. Second, it arouses the action of nucleolar polymerase A, resulting in a boost in ribosomal protein production, which fuels the regenerative capacity of the liver and the creation of new liver cells.

The liver is necessary to healthy digestion and the production of bile, an alkaline fluid that is particularly useful in the absorption of fats. Bile manufacture and fat metabolism get sluggish when the liver is not running at its most favorable level. Studies demonstrate that Milk Thistle may perk up low energy and motivation in addition to general happiness by increasing blood flow.

1 Source: Milk Thistle: Nature's Liver Protector by Michael Castleman
2 Source: Milk Thistle: The Herbal Wonder an article from PetTribune written by Dr. Russell Swift, DVM

 

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