The Natural Way: Protect your liver

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I havenít written about this herb in a long while, so here is an update. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is one of the most ancient herbal medicines, dating back 2,000 years.† The old ones would use this artichoke-like plant, which produces a prickly yet beautiful flower, mostly for liver, prostate and kidney problems.†

Most people have heard of the real benefits for the liver but donít know of its use for the prostate and kidneys.† Modern science has proven Milk Thistle, as it has been well studied (more than 45 references in the Physicianís Desk Reference for Herbs) and 442 listed in PubMed.† The German Medical Commission E also approves it for use for dyspeptic (digestive) complaints as well as for the liver and gallbladder.

While questionable marketers will sell the herb as a blend of seeds, fruit and leaves, the best benefit comes from the seed case.† The chemical from the seed is called silymarin in particular silychristin and silydianin.† These compounds inhibit the entrance of toxins and block the toxin binding sites of the liver cellís outer membrane.† It also causes the increase in glutathione production in our body, which then additionally detoxes the liver.† If that isnít enough, Milk Thistle chelates iron from the liver in cases of iron overload, very common in hepatitis.

Liver enzymes ALT and AST (from blood testing) were shown to significantly decrease after just four weeks of using Milk Thistle.† This is important for people who may drink too much alcohol or who have hepatitis.† Bilirubin, another marker from blood testing, was shown to decrease.† Cirrhosis (hardening of the liver) wasnít effected by use of Milk Thistle.

The seed exerts an anti-inflammatory effect that protects the kidneys.† Studies show kidneys damaged by acetominophen benefited.† Additionally, silibinin from Milk Thistle reduces PSA levels from the diseased prostate gland and has an anticancer benefit.

And if you just happen to go mushroom hunting and pick a bushel of Death Cap mushrooms instead of our more delicious and safe varieties here in the Ozarks, once again Milk Thistle to the rescue. Go to the ER but Milk Thistle appears to prevent severe liver damage even up to†48 hours later.