Milk Thistle is a powerful herbal detoxifier and improves liver health*
Milk thistle and probiotics improve liver health
Milk thistle improved hepatitis symptoms, low folate levels in the blood is linked to liver cancer in those with hepatitis B infection and probiotics improved liver function in liver disease, three new studies reveal.

In a hepatitis study, about 100 participants with acute clinical hepatitis and inflamed liver took 140 mg of milk thistle (silymarin) three times per day or a placebo for four weeks. Doctors measured hepatitis symptoms and liver function during and four weeks after the end of the study. Compared to placebo, symptoms such as dark urine, and yellowing skin and whites of the eyes, subsided faster in the milk thistle group. Doctors concluded that, even though it was a small study, a standard dose of silymarin is safe and may improve symptoms of acute clinical hepatitis.

In another hepatitis study, researchers measured blood levels of folate in over 400 participants who had tested positive for hepatitis B infection, increasing their chances of liver cancer. Over the next five years, 20 participants got liver cancer. Compared to those whose blood levels of folate were the lowest, those with higher folate levels were 67 percent less likely to have liver cancer. Folic acid has been shown to raise folate levels in the blood.

In a liver damage study, doctors gave about 70 severely alcoholic men the probiotics Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus plantarum or standard vitamin supplements as a placebo, while the men abstained from alcohol. Researchers also compared participants to a group of 24 healthy, non-drinking men of similar age and found the alcoholic men had higher levels of the liver enzymes that signal alcohol-induced liver damage. After five days, compared to placebo, the probiotics group had lower levels of liver-damage enzymes, and had restored healthy levels of probiotics in the gut.
Reference: Phytomedicine; 2009, Vol. 16, No. 5, 391-400

Milk thistle compound has anti-cancer mechanisms
A compound from milk thistle kept liver cancer cells from spreading and reduced their numbers in a laboratory study. Researchers from the University of California at Irvine tested various doses of silibinin, the major constituent of silymarin (the mixture of flavonolignans extracted from blessed milk thistle), in its pure form. Doctors found that a dose of 180 micromoles per liter (mm/L) of silibinin kept liver cancer cells from spreading. At a dose of 240 mm/L, silibinin accelerated the natural death rate of cancer cells by a factor of nine times. In a major finding, scientists noted that silibinin appeared to allow cells enough time to detect and repair DNA damage before passing the bad trait onto new cells. Silibinin also decreased the abnormal blood vessels that feed tumors. Study author, Dr. Ke-Qi Hu, noted that silibinin has “novel anti-cancer mechanisms” and provides researchers with new options for preventing cancer.
Reference: World Journal of Gastroenterology: October 2007; Vol. 13, No. 40, 5299-305.

Protect the liver with milk thistle
Recent statistics show that liver disease, including chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, is the ninth leading killer in North America, causing over 20,000 deaths per year. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins in the body, including nicotine, alcohol, environmental pollutants, and medictions. A safe liver tonic is a valuable addition to any natural health regimen. Milk Thistle is an herbal detoxifier that offers natural protection for the liver, and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for the liver. The active ingredient contained in milk thistle seed is a bioflavonoid complex called silymarin.

Silymarin has regenerative properties that stimulate the growth of new liver cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be safe and effective in doses of up to 600mg per day.
Several recent clinical studies on the effect of milk thistle on the liver show that this medicinal plant stabilizes cell membranes and stimulates protein synthesis. Researchers have concluded that long-term treatment is beneficial.
Reference: Drugs 2001; 61(14): 2035-63.

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