Milk Thistle is not only good for the liver

Milk Thistle is not only good for the liver

Milk Thistle Benefits
1. Hepatoprotective activity in liver disease
2. Improvement of mucosal inflammation and progression
3. Improvement of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Hello. This is pharmacist Jinny.


Are there any ingredients that change your body quickly when you ingest them ? My personal experience is not very relevant in evaluating the benefits of ingredients, but there are ingredients that most people recommend quickly and give good feedback. Magnesium and Milk Thistle Extract .


Magnesium is an essential nutrient, and if the intake is insufficient on a daily basis, physical symptoms such as muscle cramps and irritability may appear. However, it is a rather unique phenomenon that the changes in the body are quickly felt by ingestion of milk thistle extract, a functional ingredient.


But given the history of milk thistle's medicinal uses, it may not be so strange. Milk thistle has been used in Europe since the 1st century as a remedy for jaundice, stone removal, and snake bites . Against this background, silymarin, an active ingredient of milk thistle, was extracted by German scientists in 1968, and a patent was obtained as a treatment for liver disease [1].


Even today, milk thistle extract is widely used as an adjunct treatment for liver disease, and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety also recognizes its functionality as 'can help liver health'. In addition, today's academics are reporting various benefits other than liver health . Today, let's take a look at academic studies on milk thistle extract, a hidden beauty.

[1] Gillessen, A., & Schmidt, HHJ (2020). Silymarin as supportive treatment in liver diseases: A narrative review. Advances in therapy, 37(4), 1279-1301.

1. Hepatoprotective activity in liver

As mentioned earlier, milk thistle extract today is being used as an adjuvant treatment for various liver diseases. Silymarin, an active ingredient in milk thistle extract, is a flavonoid compound with antioxidant and anti- inflammatory activity known to be. 

The hepatoprotective benefits of these milk thistle extracts have been studied for a long time in academia. In 2020, Gillessen and Schmidt conducted a comprehensive review of studies on milk thistle extract reported in the academic community to date . Hepatoprotective effect was confirmed, and the conclusion is presented as follows.

“Silymarin (milk thistle extract) is generally well tolerated, has a low incidence of side effects, and has not reported any serious treatment-related adverse events or clinical deaths. Treatments involving silymarin should be initiated as soon as possible. 
Reference paper: Gillessen, A., & Schmidt, HHJ (2020). Silymarin as supportive treatment in liver diseases: A narrative review. Advances in therapy, 37(4), 1279-1301.
2. Improving the occurrence and progression of mucosal inflammation

As mentioned in the study introduced just before, milk thistle extract has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and has excellent tolerability, so it has few side effects. In other words, it can be seen as a highly safe ingredient even when additionally treated for patients with specific diseases .


According to these characteristics, academia is examining whether milk thistle extract can be used to alleviate the side effects of medical treatment. In particular , attention has been focused on whether it can help with stomatitis, the most common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy . It is known that stomatitis, which is a side effect of radiation therapy, leads to pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss, reducing the survival rate of cancer patients. 


To evaluate the usefulness of milk thistle extract, Elyasi and researchers (2016) conducted a 6-week human trial, starting from the first day of radiation therapy, in 27 head and neck cancer patients . In this study, it is reported that the ingestion of milk thistle extract during radiation therapy confirmed the occurrence and delay of mucositis.

"During the radiation treatment period, scores were significantly increased in both the control group and the milk thistle intake group, but mucositis swelling and delayed progression were observed in the milk thistle intake group. It may reduce the severity and delay the onset of radiation therapy-induced mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer. 
Reference Papers: Elyasi, S., Hosseini, S., Niazi Moghadam, MR, Aledavood, SA, & Karimi, G. (2016). Effect of oral silymarin administration on prevention of radiotherapy induced mucositis: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research, 30(11), 1879-1885.
3. Improvement of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

It is now common knowledge that oxidative stress and inflammation are the underlying causes of many diseases. But did you know that this 'majority disease' includes some mental disorders as well? In the 2000s, academics are examining the hypothesis that oxidative stress in the brain causes neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, neurogenesis inhibition, and neurotransmission disorders, resulting in abnormal neurotransmission .


In particular , a high correlation between obsessive-compulsive disorder and antioxidant enzyme deficiency has been reported. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which certain thoughts or scenes come to mind, and you become anxious and repeat certain actions to eliminate the anxiety. For example, after locking the front door, turning around, thinking that the door was not locked properly, go back and check it several times or dozens of times.

In general, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are used for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder . (2010) reported that milk thistle extract showed similar effects to antidepressants in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder in an 8-week human application study .

"This study shows that milk thistle extract has a positive effect on the improvement of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The positive effect was visible from the 5th week of ingestion, and no side effects were observed. "
Reference Papers:  Sayyah, M., Boostani, H., Pakseresht, S., & Malayeri, A. (2010). Comparison of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. with fluoxetine in the treatment of Obsessive − Compulsive Disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 34(2), 362-365.

Today, we looked at the results of academic research on milk thistle extract, which is widely loved as a functional ingredient for liver health. As most of the research was designed based on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of milk thistle extract, I think that recognizing milk thistle extract as a type of antioxidant would be more helpful than using it in your daily life.


In addition, in most of the clinical studies I reviewed, including the human application test introduced today, the daily intake of milk thistle extract as silymarin is set at 420 to 600 mg. This is more than four times the daily intake (130 mg) of milk thistle extract set by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. There have been no notable side effects reported, so it can be considered as a good ingredient to consume with confidence.


I hope you have a healthy body and mind. More than that, it was Jinny.