Milk Thistle

Silybum marianum

Part Used: The seeds.

Constituents: Flavolignans; the mixture of these is known as “silymarin” and composed mainly of silybin (=silibinin), with isosilybin, dihydrosilybin, silydianin, silychristin, and in some varieties at least, silandrin, silymonin, silyhermin and neosilyhermin.

Actions: Hepatic, galactogogue, demulcent, cholagogue.

Indications: For more details on this plants please refer to the section on the liver. Milk Thistle can be used to increase the secretion and flow of bile from the liver and gall-bladder. Its traditional use as a liver tonic has been supported by research showing that it contains constituents which protect liver cells from chemical damage. It is used in a whole range of liver and gall bladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis. Historically this herb has been used in Europe as a liver tonic and current phytotherpy indicates its use in a whole range of liver and gallbladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis. It may also have value in the treatment of chronic uterine problems. A wealth of research done in Germany is revealing exciting data about reversal of toxic liver damage as well as protection from potential hepatotoxic agents.

A number of chemical components of herb are now being shown to have this protective effect on liver cells. They are all flavones and flavo-lignins, the best studied being silymarin. Silymarin has been shown to reverse the effects of highly toxic alkaloids, such phalloidine and [[alpha]]-amanitine from the Avenging Angel mushroom (Amanita phalloides) as well as protect liver cells from their impact. The pharmacodynamics, site and mechanism of action of silymarin are becoming well understood, providing insights into the metabolic basis of this herbs activity., an activity long known and used by medical herbalists. As its name implies, it promotes milk secretion and is perfectly safe to be used by all breast feeding mothers.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l teaspoonful of the ground seeds and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: l-2 ml three times a day.

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David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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