Milk Thistle seed (Silybum marianum or sometimes referred to by its older botanical name of Carduus marianus) is a wonderful liver helper. That’s particularly good news this time of year.
Researchers believe the family of plant chemicals (phytochemicals) known as silymarin may be responsible for its potent antioxidant and liver protecting capacities.
Silymarin is a class of chemicals that include silybin, isosilybin, silydianin and silychristin. Chemical analysis suggests it may be the silybinin that is the most helpful in terms of protecting your liver. Plants, just like people, are complex so it will be much more than the silybinin on its own. But the research is a good place to start…
In vitro studies have shown that silybinin can stop toxic chemicals entering cells by stabilising the cell’s membrane. But it doesn’t stop there. Other research has shown that silybinin has the ability to eject toxic chemicals from inside cells so its stops the possibility of liver damage before it can even get started.
Silybinin is also a great detoxifier. It increases or decreases phase I detoxification, depending on what you need to happen. It increases phase II detoxification and encourages your liver cells to regenerate.
Side effects from milk thistle are extremely rare. If taken in large doses, it can act as a laxative. One shot of milk thistle before your big night out isn’t going to make a huge difference. Take it for at least 10-days before you plan to overindulge. In other words, it’s best to start taking it now.