(NaturalNews) Milk Thistle is a plant native to the Mediterranean region that has been used for its medicinal properties since the 1st century AD. It is no surprise that today everyone's body is bombarded with chemical toxins regularly from pesticides in food to the air pollution we breathe. The liver and kidneys are largely responsible for detoxifying our bodies but even they have a limit. Without proper detoxification and care these organs can be overloaded with toxins, not function correctly or, in severe cases, shut down altogether. When these organs are not able to do their jobs effectively, the body as a whole suffers severe illness and disease.
Milk Thistle's ability to support healthy liver and kidney function has been known since the 1st century AD. Milk Thistle's active ingredient is Silymarin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Silymarin comes from a group of flavonoids and research indicates they help repair and protect liver cells from toxic substances. Often utilized by alcoholics with cirrhosis of the liver some studies have shown improved liver function and increased survival rates.
One study in particular concerning workers exposed to toxic chemicals for 5-20 years showed significant improvement to overall liver function when given a standardized Milk Thistle extract (80% silymarin) for 30 days.
Other research has indicated that key constituents in Milk Thistle also promote healthy prostate function and a strong gastrointestinal tract by resolving free radical damage. Since the majority of our immune response is found in the gastrointestinal tract this benefit is a strong reason to consider Milk Thistle as a regular detox method.
Milk Thistle has been verified in laboratory studies to be an anti-cancer treatment. Silymarin has been shown to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, which is why cancer is so deadly. Silymarin also reduces the life span of the cancer's cells. These findings require further testing on humans to be ruled definitive, but they are another valid reason to consider consumption of Milk Thistle as a preventative cancer aid.
Milk Thistle has also shown medicinal benefit for treatments including: lowering cholesterol, reducing insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics who also have cirrhosis, reducing the size of cancerous tumors and growth of cancer cells and reducing liver damage from chemotherapy treatment as well as for liver function for jaundice and for hepatitis patients.
As usual there are mixed results regarding studies concerning Milk Thistle's effectiveness. As with studies concerning Vitamin C, which we all know to be extremely beneficial, most studies completed with Milk Thistle showing ineffective results were tested with very small dosages. These studies concluded that there is no medicinal benefit when studies testing with significantly larger doses concluded the active ingredient, Silymarin, has strong therapeutic effects. Consulting with a naturopath or homeopathic doctor is advised when taking any herbs, especially beyond the recommended dosage.
Many people are concerned whether or not their products contain any of the active ingredients they claim. On average the standard supplement will contain anywhere from 70-80% silymarin when bought from a reputable source.
Duke Mansell is a personal trainer who maintains AlltheWayFitness.com, a website devoted to optimal health through functional physical training and organic living. Duke Mansell is a researcher of health and wellness. His client training emphasizes a whole foods approach to weight loss and fitness and utilizes functional training. Duke Mansell is a student of applied kinesiology, trained in muscle testing to address body issues from hormone disfunction to leaky gut. Duke Mansell is also completing a BA and Masters in acupuncture and medicinal herbs.