[Effects of Milk Thistle] From Improving Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to Inflammation, Milk Thistle
Nov 15, 2023KimSunhyo
[Effects of Milk Thistle] From Improving
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to Inflammation
Milk Thistle is Not Only Good for the Liver
This content is health information about ingredients and not directly related to a specific product.
Effects of Milk Thistle
1. Hepatoprotective activity in liver diseases 2. Improves the occurrence and progression of mucosal inflammation 3. Improves obsessive-compulsive disorder pressure
Hello, I am Jinny, a pharmacist.
Is there an ingredient that your body quickly reacts to when ingested? Although personal experience is not very meaningful in evaluating the benefits of ingredients, there are ingredients that most people quickly give good feedback about when recommended. It is magnesium and milk thistle extract.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient, and if your daily intake is insufficient, physical symptoms such as muscle cramps or nervousness may appear. In this case, supplementing with a sufficient amount of magnesium will improve the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. However, it is a somewhat unique phenomenon that physical changes are quickly felt upon ingestion of milk thistle extract, a functional ingredient.
However, considering the history of milk thistle's medicinal use, this may not be so strange. Milk thistle has been used in Europe since the 1st century as a treatment for jaundice, stone removal, and snake bites. Against this background, silymarin, the active ingredient of milk thistle, was extracted by German scientists in 1968 and patented as a treatment for liver disease .
Even today, milk thistle extract is widely used as an auxiliary treatment for liver disease, and even the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety recognizes its functionality as ‘can help liver health.’ Also, academic circles are reporting various benefits of consumption other than liver health. Today, we will take a look at academic research on the hidden all-rounder, milk thistle extract.
 Gillessen, A., & Schmidt, H. H. J. (2020). Silymarin as supportive treatment in liver diseases: A narrative review. Advances in therapy, 37(4), 1279-1301.
1. Hepatoprotective Activity in Liver Diseases
As mentioned earlier, today, milk thistle extract is used as an adjuvant treatment for various liver diseases. Silymarin, the active ingredient of milk thistle extract, is a flavonoid compound that shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. It increases the production of glutathione in the liver, improves the antioxidant ability of liver tissue, and contributes to detoxification by suppressing the production of inflammatory substances.
The liver-protecting benefits of milk thistle extract have been studied for a long time in academia. In 2020, Gillessen and Schmidt comprehensively reviewed the research on milk thistle extract reported in the academic world to date, and found that milk thistle extract was effective in treating liver cirrhosis, alcoholic fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and drug-induced liver damage. The liver protective effect was confirmed, and the conclusions are presented as follows.
“Silymarin (milk thistle extract) is generally very well tolerated, has a low incidence of side effects, and no treatment-related serious adverse events or clinical deaths have been reported. For patients with clear signs of liver disease, it is important to obtain the maximum benefit. Treatment containing silymarin should be administered as soon as possible.”
Reference : Gillessen, A., & Schmidt, H. H. J. (2020). Silymarin as supportive treatment in liver diseases: A narrative review. Advances in therapy, 37(4), 1279-1301.
2. Improves Occurrence and Progression of Mucosal Inflammation
As mentioned in the study introduced just before, milk thistle extract has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that has excellent tolerability. It has almost no side effects, and has an activity that protects the liver rather than placing a burden on the liver when ingested. In other words, it can be considered a highly safe ingredient even when administered additionally to patients with specific diseases.
Based on these properties, academic circles are examining whether milk thistle extract can be used to alleviate the side effects of medical treatments. Especially, attention was focused on whether it could help with stomatitis, the most common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Stomatitis, which occurs as a side effect of radiation therapy, is known to lead to pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss, lowering 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 on the first day of radiation therapy in 27 head and neck cancer patients. This study reports that consumption of milk thistle extract during radiation treatment delayed the development and progression of mucositis.
“There was a significant increase in scores in both the control and milk thistle groups during the radiotherapy period, but a delay in the development and progression of mucositis was observed in the milk thistle group. Prophylactic consumption of the traditional form of milk thistle extract tablets was effective in both cases. “It can reduce the severity and delay the onset of radiotherapy-induced mucositis in patients with cervical cancer.”
Reference : Elyasi, S., Hosseini, S., Niazi Moghadam, M. R., Aledavood, S. A., & Karimi, G. (2016). Effect of oral silymarin administration on prevention of radiotherapy induced mucositis: A randomized, double‐blinded, placebo‐controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research, 30(11), 1879-1885.
3. Improves Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
It is now common knowledge that oxidative stress and inflammation are the underlying causes of most diseases. But did you know that these ‘majority diseases’ also include some mental illnesses? In the 2000s, academic circles are examining the hypothesis that oxidative stress in the brain causes neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, inhibition of neurogenesis, and neurotransmission disorders, resulting in abnormal neurotransmission.
Particularly, a high correlation between obsessive-compulsive disorder and antioxidant enzyme deficiency has been reported. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disease in which a person becomes anxious when a thought or scene comes to mind, regardless of his or her will, and repeats a specific action to get rid of the anxiety. For example, after locking the front door, you turn around and leave, but then you think you didn't lock the door properly, so you go back and check again, repeating this action several to dozens of times.
In general, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class antidepressants are used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sayyah and researchers compared the effects of milk thistle extract and antidepressant (fluoxetine) on 35 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2010) reported that milk thistle extract had a similar effect to antidepressants in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in an 8-week human application trial.
“This study shows that milk thistle extract has a positive effect on improving obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The positive effects were visible starting from the 5th week of intake, and no additional side effects were observed. "
Reference : 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 studies have been designed based on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of milk thistle extract, I think it would be helpful to recognize milk thistle extract as a type of antioxidant when using it in daily life.
In addition, most clinical studies I have looked at, including the human application test introduced today, set the daily intake of milk thistle extract as silymarin at 420 to 600 mg. This is more than four times the daily intake of milk thistle extract (130 mg) set by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. There have been no reports of notable side effects, so it can be said that it is basically a good ingredient that can be consumed with confidence.
I hope you have a healthy day both physically and mentally. This was Jinny.