Some of the most powerful herbal remedies have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years. Milk thistle seed powder is no exception. In fact, milk thistle has been used for over 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for liver problems1.
The milk thistle plant originates from southern Europe, Russia, Asia and North Africa. However, it is also currently grown in Australia and both North and South America2. Let's take a closer look at one of the most popular herbal supplements.
Milk thistle seed powder is an extract from the milk thistle plant. The main active component of this extract is silymarin. Milk thistle also contains a group of active ingredients known as flavonolignans3. Flavonolignans contain a flavonoid unit and phenylpropane component that is connected to an oxeran ring4. Together these, active components of milk thistle seed powder offer an abundance of benefits to those who suffer from a number of ailments.
TRADITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF MILK THISTLE SEED POWDER:
Milk thistle seed powder is used for a variety of medical benefits, including:
Prevent Bone Loss
Milk thistle seed has been shown to have antioxidant properties5. Silymarin is the compound in milk thistle seed powder that is responsible for these valuable antioxidant properties. One study6showed that this antioxidant characteristic may be beneficial in preventing bone loss and helping to build bone in individuals with osteoporosis.
Treat Damaged Skin
Studies7show that milk thistle can help treat skin damage that is caused by ultraviolet radiation and DNA damage. This is because milk thistle has been found to be an effective antioxidant and shows good cytoprotective properties.
Manage Blood Glucose Levels
Millions of Americans are currently living with diabetes in the United States. Diabetes means blood glucose levels are elevated. Failure to properly manage diabetes can lead to very serious health complications including cardiovascular disease, damage to organs and even amputations8. Studies3show that milk thistle seed has the potential to help manage both diabetes and associated complications.
Treat Liver Disease
Milk thistle is most commonly known for its ability to be beneficial to those who suffer from liver and gallbladder diseases9. Research10established that milk thistle improves liver function numbers in individuals who suffer from chronic liver disease.
Inhibit Tumor Growth
Studies11also explain that milk thistle can be effective in preventing the growth of tumors.
Further research is needed to understand the mechanism behind milk thistle's role in inhibiting tumor growth. This same study report that milk thistle increases individuals' immunity to infectious diseases.
How to Use Milk Thistle Seed Powder
Milk thistle is most commonly taken as an oral dietary supplement, but it can also be applied directly to the skin to help treat skin damage. In addition to being used as a powder, milk thistle can also be taken as an extract and as a capsule.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Milk Thistle Seed Powder
Milk thistle is not regulated by the FDA, which means there are not established recommended doses. It is always important to follow any and all directions provided by the manufacturer when taking milk thistle seed powder. This supplement is generally considered safe with mild side effects including headaches, itching, and gastrointestinal issues12. When adding any new supplement to your diet, it is important to consult with your health care provider.
It is advised to avoid milk thistle if you have any type of estrogen-related cancer such as breast or uterine cancer because of its estrogenic effects9. Your doctor will take into account your age, current health status and any medications you are taking when recommending an appropriate dosage.
Foods that Contain Milk Thistle Seed Powder
Milk thistle seed powder is not found naturally in food sources. It is primarily consumed as a dietary supplement instead.
Is Milk Thistle Seed Powder Healthy?
Milk thistle seed powder is an excellent dietary supplement for individuals with diabetes, liver disease, skin damage, gall bladder disease and osteoporosis. Future research is sure to uncover even more benefits of this powerful herb that has been used for thousands of years.
Citations and Sources
1. Abenavoli L, Izzo A, Milić N, Cicala C, Santini A, Capasso R. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum): A concise overview on its chemistry, pharmacological, and nutraceutical uses in liver diseases.Phytother Res. 2018;32(11):2202-2213.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30080294.
2. Milk Thistle. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/milkthistle/ataglance.htm. Accessed May 13, 2019.
3. Kazazis C, Evangelopoulos A, Kollas A, Vallianou N. The therapeutic potential of milk thistle in diabetes.Rev Diabet Stud. 2014;11(2):167-174.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25396404.
4. Bijak M. [Flavonolignans - compounds not only for liver treatment].Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2017;42(247):34-37.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28134230.
5. Meddeb W, Rezig L, Zarrouk A, et al. Cytoprotective Activities of Milk Thistle Seed Oil Used in Traditional Tunisian Medicine on 7-Ketocholesterol and 24S-Hydroxycholesterol-Induced Toxicity on 158N Murine Oligodendrocytes.Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(7).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30029553.
6. Mohd F, Mazlan M, Shuid A, Isa N. Milk thistle: a future potential anti-osteoporotic and fracture healing agent.Curr Drug Targets. 2013;14(14):1659-1666.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24093748.
7. DI C, Monfrecola G, Gasparri F, Micillo R, Balato A, Lembo S. Milk thistle and olive extract: old substances with a new mission against sun-induced skin damage.G Ital Dermatol Venereol. November 2017.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29192469.
8. MedlinePlus. Diabetes.https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html. Accessed May 13, 2019.
9. Milk Thistle. Mayo Clinic.https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-milk-thistle/art-20362885. Accessed May 13, 2019.
10. Jacobs B, Dennehy C, Ramirez G, Sapp J, Lawrence V. Milk thistle for the treatment of liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Am J Med. 2002;113(6):506-515.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12427501.
11. Wilasrusmee C, Kittur S, Shah G, et al. Immunostimulatory effect of Silybum Marianum (milk thistle) extract.Med Sci Monit. 2002;8(11):BR439-43.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12444368.
12. Milk Thistle. Mayoclinic.https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-milk-thistle/art-20362885. Accessed May 13, 2019.