Milk Thistle (Silybum Marianum) is a plant containing the flavonolignan Silymarin in its fruits or thistles (1).
Milk Thistle Benefits
- May support healthy liver enzymes (ref)*
Milk Thistle is emerging as a subject of interest in the medical community, but thus far, there has not been a large amount of research or trials conducted with humans, except for those studies referenced above.*
The following are examples of dynamics associated with Milk Thistle through the animal model:
- May promote anti-oxidant activity in the liver (of mice) (ref)*
- Promotes neural health (in animal in-vitro studies) (ref)*
Milk Thistle Mode of Action
Milk Thistle contains 1.5-3% Silymarin before extraction in its dry weight. It is extracted from the seeds for supplement use via ethanol and contains 65-80% of Silymarin, which is a specific polyphenol called a flavonolignan. Silymarin has 7 flavonolignan constituents unique to milk thistle: Silybinin, Isosilibin, Silychristine, Sildydianin, and Taxifolin (a nearly undetectable level of Quercetin called dihydroquercetin) (1).
Milk Thistle’s hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects are believed to be due to its ability to increase protein synthesis in liver cells and facilitate repair of liver cells after injury (1). Milk Thistle has been shown to decrease elevated levels of liver enzymes such as bilirubin, alanine transaminase, and aspartate transaminase, while improving the health of cells at a histologic (microscopic) level (3).
The research in animals and in vitro have suggested its ability to act as an antioxidant specifically targeting liver cells (3) and working as a mediator in decreasing and protecting neural cells from oxidative demise (4).
Milk Thistle has also been useful in cases of poisonous mushroom toxicity because the Silibinin in Milk Thistle extracts can block cellular mushroom toxins (amatoxins) from being recirculated through the liver (5).
Milk Thistle Capsules Dosage
Pure Nootropics’ Milk Thistle Capsules provide 250 mg of Milk Thistle Seed Extract (80% Silymarin) per 1 capsule. Suggested use for adults is 1 to 2 capsules by mouth daily for best results, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
Milk Thistle Side Effects and Toxicity
Milk Thistle is generally well tolerated. Side effects are rare and may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as pain, nausea, or vomiting, and very rare reports of rash, pruritus, eczema, and anaphylaxis (6).
A lethal dose was achieved for silymarin at doses of 300 mg/kg in dogs and rabbits and 900-1000 mg/kg in rodents (7).
CAUTION: If you are allergic to plant members of the aster family (also known as Asteraceae/Compositae family), do not use Milk Thistle (6).
If you are taking any medications, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with Milk Thistle.
If you are taking any anti-diabetes medications, an interaction may occur between Milk Thistle and the medication that may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)(7). Please consult with your healthcare practitioner if you are taking anti-diabetes medications.
For further information, please see our References Tab above.