The study, conducted by researchers from the Iuliu Ha?ieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca in Romania, looked at the effect of silymarin on liver injuries in mice. Silymarin is commonly known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties, as well as its liver-protecting potential.
For the study, the research team used carbon tetrachloride to induce liver injuries in mice. The administration of carbon tetrachloride increased oxidative stress and inflammation and caused liver fibrosis. After a toxic liver injury, the researchers gave mice silymarin for 10 weeks. After the final silymarin treatment, the researchers measured inflammation, fibrosis, markers of hepatic stellate cell activation, and proliferative capacity.
The results revealed that administration of silymarin after a toxic liver injury reduced inflammation and liver fibrosis. In addition, the team found that the benefits are greater when the dose is higher. With these findings, the researchers concluded that silymarin could be used to reduce inflammation and treat liver fibrosis.
Silymarin is the antioxidant extract from the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). It is more potent than the whole seeds or unprocessed milk thistle plant. Scientists classify silymarin as a flavonolignan. It contains several compounds such as silybin. This natural medicine has been used for more than 2,000 years in ancient Greece and Rome.
Silymarin has been often used for treating liver problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption like cirrhosis. Several factors cause liver damage. Drinking too much alcohol or taking pharmaceutical drugs, such as acetaminophen, damages liver cells and impairs liver function. Obesity also increases the risk of fatty liver, which can harm the liver's ability to break down chemicals. Chronic liver infections like hepatitis also impair liver function. Taking silymarin reduces inflammation, increases glutathione production, and stimulates the creation of new liver cells -- all of these contribute to liver health. Combining silymarin with vitamin E may also benefit people with hepatitis C infections and those with a fatty liver, according to a study in Italy. Silymarin helps people with hepatitis C by reducing hepatitis C virus concentrations and liver enzymes, while it decreases liver enzymes, cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation in people with a fatty liver.
Silymarin is also useful for diabetic people. The liver and pancreas work together to regulate blood sugar, but high blood sugar levels may impair the function of both organs. Studies suggest that taking silymarin supplements can help improve blood sugar, fasting insulin levels, glycated hemoglobin levels, and other markers of glucose intolerance in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Laboratory testing and clinical trials have shown that silymarin may also be helpful during the treatment of certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, liver, and prostate cancers. This is because it can reduce the toxic effects of conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy. (Related: Milk thistle is not only good for your liver – it can protect you from the toxic effects of chemotherapy, too.)
Lastly, silymarin can also minimize the toxic effects of chemical exposures. It works by improving the ability of the liver to break down these chemicals. Silymarin can protect against carbon tetrachloride, toluene, and xylene.
Read more news stories and studies on natural medicines for reducing inflammation and treating liver toxicity by going to AlternativeMedicine.news.