Milk thistle
Silybum marianum

Milk thistle - Silybum marianum (in the Asteraceae or Aster family)

Part used: Seed.

Taste/smell: Bitter.

Dosage: Decoction: 1-2 teaspoons of crushed seed per cup of water; or 1:2.5 dry strength

liquid extract: 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: It is specific for congestion and inflammation of the liver, spleen and kidneys accompanied by hemorrhagic tendencies. There is a dull aching pain over the spleen, passing up to the left scapula and pain in the right side. It is indicated for weak and congested veins, pelvic congestion, prolapse of organs and blood stasis leading to hemorrhage. The individual displays pronounced debility.

Use: (a) Antioxidant, (b)Hepatoprotective, (c) Hepatotrophorestorative, (d) Gastroprotectant.

It is used for most liver diseases, including hepatitis, fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver protection and/or regeneration immediately after exposure to liver toxins although it is best used as a protectant before exposure to liver toxins.

The constituent silymarin shows antifibrotic effects in early and advanced biliary fibrosis secondary to complete bile duct obliteration in rats. In patients with diabetes and alcohol-induced cirrhosis, silymarin has been shown to lower lipoperoxidative damage, blood glucose levels, glycosylated hemoglobin values and exogenous insulin requirements. Milk thistle contains 1.5-3% silymarin, a complex of flavonolignans, that mostly consists of silybin (silibinin, silychristin and silydianin). Silymarin is incorporated in cell membranes and increases the resistance of the membranes against injurious influences, probably by changing the physiochemical properties. It prevents the uptake of the mushroom toxins amanitin and phalloidin by competitive inhibition of receptors at the outer cell membrane and protects the liver against poisoning by organophosphate insecticides. It also stimulates RNA polymerase A, polymerase I, which enhances ribosome protein synthesis and activates the regenerative capacity of the liver cells. Silibinin has been used on lab rats to protect them from glomerular and tubular damage from cisplatin. Milk thistle prevents liver damage from butyrophenones, phenothiazines, acetaminophen, halothane, dilantin and ethanol due to membrane-stabilizing and free radical scavenging effects of silymarin.

Contraindications: Information unavailable at this time.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.