Milk thistle is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years to support liver, kidney, and gall bladder health.1 It contains the flavonoid silymarin, which is thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Native to the Mediterranean but now found throughout the world, milk thistle is regarded as a weed in some areas, despite its therapeutic potential. When the leaves are crushed they release a milky sap, giving this herb its characteristic name.2
Silymarin, its active component, is actually a group of compounds (silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin), which work together to provide multiple health benefits. How does silymarin protect your liver?
For starters, it’s an anti-fibrotic, which means it prevents tissue scarring, and it’s thought to act as a “toxin blockade agent” by inhibiting the binding of toxins to liver cell membrane receptors.3
Not only is silymarin used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, and toxin-induced liver diseases, but this powerful compound has been shown in animal studies to reduce liver injury caused by a number of drugs and environmental toxins
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