(NaturalNews) The liver is our largest internal organ, weighing in at around 3 pounds (1.5 kg). A strong liver is needed for good health and a strong immune system, as it plays a main role in keeping all of our body's systems in balance. The herb milk thistle has been used for many centuries as a powerful way to protect, strengthen, and revitalize the liver.
The liver is a multitasking organ. Just some of the many liver functions include filtering and purifying the blood, producing bile for proper fat digestion, storing numerous vitamins and minerals, breaking down excess hormones, and removing microbes and parasites from the bloodstream.
A healthy liver also provides significant protection from the pollutants, toxins and other harmful chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. Unfortunately, common diet and lifestyle choices hinder the liver's ability to protect us. Processed foods, refined sweeteners, pesticides on produce, artificial hormones in meat, caustic cleaning products, and toxins in body care products all play a role in creating liver dysfunction.
Some early symptoms of a sluggish liver can include a weakened immune system, very low energy levels, digestive problems, elevated LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, cellulite, poor skin and hair, and inability to lose weight.
Milk thistle protects the liver, improves its function, and enhances its ability to regenerate. This herb has been used to successfully treat liver disease, liver cirrhosis, and liver inflammation. Milk thistle also repairs our liver from the harmful effects of alcohol, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and other toxic substances.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is isolated from the seeds of the herb. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that rival those of vitamin C and vitamin E, and quality milk thistle supplements contain 70-80% silymarin.
How much to take varies by the individual. Generally about 100-200 mg 2-3 times a day is recommended, but even higher doses are considered safe. Possible side effects at higher dosages are an upset stomach and/or mild diarrhea, as milk thistle can have a mild laxative effect.
Besides milk thistle, other ways to support healthy liver function include eating organic, whole foods, drinking plenty of purified water, and using natural cleaning and body care products. A healthy liver plays a critical part in good health and a strong immune system.
Melissa Makris is a researcher with a technical background in immunology. She is passionate about holistic and alternative methods of healing. Her website How to Boost Your Immune System shares information on how to improve immune system health using simple, natural methods.