Milk Thistle, aka Silybum marianum, is a powerful liver cleansing agent, and the best part about it is that it is completely natural. Milk thistle is named for the white veins on its leaves, which are large and prickly. Milk Thistle browns natively in Mediterranean temperate zones and throughout North America and Europe. Milk Thistle has been used since ancient times and in many regions is considered to be a traditional winter vegetable served at holiday parties.
Milk Thistle is A Magic Liver Cleanser
Milk Thistle has a sweet, delicate and bitter flavor, which is traditionally believed to stimulate the liver organ and functionality. Milk Thistle does not contain many nutrients, but the silymarin flavonoid component of the plant is a stronger liver purifier, as is the inulin it contains.
Thistle is one of the best supplements for healing and protecting the liver because silymarin is hepato-protective and can not only cleanse the liver but can also act preventatively to resist liver damage and to stimulate repair of damaged liver cells. Silymarin is also believed to have antioxidant properties. Milk Thistle is also used in treatment of liver disorders and biliary disorders including low bile production and secretion, gallstones, and other hepato-biliary issues.
Milk Thistle can help to protect the liver from abuse by alcohol and drugs, and can assist in digestion by stimulating appetite. Thistle is also a diuretic and has a mild laxative effect. Thistle has been used as a supplement for people with high cholesterol levels because of its ability to lower lipid levels. Additionally, thistle has been used externally as an anti-inflammatory to treat dermatitis skin infections and to relieve sunburn.
Milk Thistle can be consumed in a variety of ways including tincture, extract or dried ground free or encapsulated. It is also possible to take a silymarin specific supplement that is extracted from Milk Thistle. Silymarin extract is often combined with other herbs in liver cleanse formulas for more comprehensive coverage.
Decocting, or boiling, Milk Thistle is an option for those who would like to experience and interact with the herb directly. To decoct, add 1.5 teaspoons of Thistle to a cup of water and boil for 2-3 minutes, allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain and serve. This is a decoction that can be taken 2-3 times per day, or can be sipped throughout the day as a tea for continued health maintenance.
*Milk Thistle is considered generally safe, but always consult a doctor before adding supplements or changing your diet
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