Milk Thistle Benefits

Milk Thistle
Latin Name

Silybum marianum

Also Known As

Holy thistle, marythisle, St. Mary's thistle, Marian Thistle, Milk Thistle


Southern Europe, North Africa, Middle East

Parts Used


Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Milk Thistle herb has a traditional and modern use as a liver tonic. It encourages the secretion and flow of bile and is therefore an excellent remedy for liver inflammation, the kidneys and the gall bladder. It is an excellent detox aid. It has been used extensively to treat: 

Liver disease
Cirrhosis of the liver
Drug / alcohol induced liver damage

Menstrual complaints

Milk thistle is a powerful anti-oxidant and protects the liver cells from toxins. Many medications whilst treating a health condition can put stress on the liver. Milk Thistle has been shown to work at preventing liver damage associated with anti-biotic, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic medication.

Milk thistle can also be used as part of a detoxifying health program to tonify and nourish an overworked liver.

Typical Use
Milk thistle Herbal tincture- 1:3 extraction ratio 45% alcohol vol.   1-2ml up to 3 times per day   Milk thistle Herbal powder- 1/3 - 2/3 grams Herbal powder up to 3 times per day   Or as recommended by a herbal practitioner
Folklore and History
Pliny, a first century A.D. Roman naturalist, stated that Milk Thistle was "excellent for carrying off bile". In other words, it restores impaired liver functions. Milk thistle supplies an antidote to the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), which kills its victims by destroying liver cells. Ancients believed that the white veins that mottled the leaves of milk thistle represented drops of the Virgin Mary's milk, fallen there when she nursed baby Jesus. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle seeds contain a bioflavonoid complex known as silymarin.. Silymarin is made up of three parts: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. Silibinin is the most active and is largely responsible for the benefits attributed to silymarin   

Can cause an allergic reaction, occasionally people report a laxative, upset stomach effect.