Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) Seed, Whole, Certified Organic


USA. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) Seed, Whole, Certified Organic

Common names: Marian Thistle, Scotch Thistle, Cardus Marianus, Blessed Milk Thistle, Cardo Blanco, Cardo de Burro, Chardonmarie, Shui Fei Ji, Lactuca Scariola, Prickly Lettuce, Dugadh Rom, Vanya Kahu

Family: Asteraceae

Milk Thistle is a spiny annual or biennial plant, bearing showy purple flowers similar to the Artichoke, that apparently originated in southern Eurasia (some say in southeast England, others in Crete), and can now be found in temperate zones throughout the world. It grows approximately 1 to 6 feet high, typically in disturbed areas, and is commercially cultivated in Europe, China, and South America.

Milk Thistle has been esteemed by herbalists for centuries, and was praised by the Greek physician Dioscorides nearly 2,000 years ago. Its common name reflects its venerable use as a galactagogue, stimulating milk production in nursing mothers. Other traditional roles for the plant have featured its demulcent action for relieving colds and pleurisy, as well as claims for curing malaria, rabies, and the plague.  

Undoubtedly, the most notable part of the Milk Thistle story, ancient and modern, is its protective effects on the liver and gall bladder. It restores liver cells damaged by alcohol, drugs, poisonous mushrooms, and many other toxins, and can be helpful in cases of cirrhosis and viral hepatitis, as well as certain skin conditions such as psoriasis which are often linked to liver toxicity. In the classical humoral approaches to healing, liver toxicity was also believed to cause depression, and Gerard wrote in the 16th century that “this is the best remedy that grows against all melancholy diseases.”

The three flavolignans known as silymarin have been studied extensively in recent decades for their antioxidant properties which appear to be the key to Milk Thistle’s hepatoprotective activity. Antioxidant effects have also been highlighted in experiments that show benefits for limiting DNA damage to skin from sun exposure. Another component of the seeds looks promising as a tool for helping to manage Type 2 diabetes. The liver is an essential part of the immune system, and so it is not surprising to find research suggesting possible uses in preventing and treating cancer, in addition to the antimicrobial action  noted by ancient writers. The liver’s many functions include regulation of blood lipids, and studies show results for reducing cholesterol and protecting the heart.

An enthusiastic 2013 literature review adds Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, sepsis, burns, and osteoporosis to the list of conditions already noted here that Milk Thistle research has explored. Furthermore, recent experiments may confirm Gerard’s view of Milk Thistle extract as a remedy for depression.

We can’t always control our exposure to toxic substances in the environment; Milk Thistle offers a proven way to reduce the resulting risks.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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