Milk Thistle - Best Herb for Liver Problems

Milk Thistle

Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus) Asteraceae/Compositae Also called Our lady's thistle.
A tough herbaceous plant that thrives on dry wasteground, the milk thistle is common in many parts of Europe and Asia. Its shiny, indented leaves are fringed with spines and have milky white veins, the result, according to myth, of milk from the Virgin 5 breast falling onto the plant. Crimson-mauve flowers made up if hundreds of florets crown the tops if the stems in summer. These are followed by tufted seeds.

Parts used

  • Leaves and seeds
  • Leaves and seeds may be used fresh or dried.
  • The leaves are picked at the end of summer. They are dried, cut into small pieces or crushed into powder, and used in infusions.
  • The seeds are collected in autumn, dried and used in powders, dry extracts and tinctures.
  • Milk thistle is often combined with other plants used to treat bile problems, such as globe artichoke.


The seeds contain silymarin, a mixture of several compounds that are known to protect the liver. The leaves contain flavonoids antioxidants that are good for the circulation - and b-sitosterol, a substance that emulsifies fats and breaks down cholesterol deposits.


  • Milk thistle can be allergenic: stop using if you have a reaction.
  • Do not use to treat problems. caused by an obstruction to the flow of bilesuch as gallstones.
  • It is not advisable to use the plant when pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • An overdose of any milk thistle preparation can cause vomiting.


For internal use

TO TREAT minor digestive problems, bile problems INFUSION Add 1 teaspoon of leaves to a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. then strain. Drink 3 cups a day, before meals.

TINCTURE Put 30 drops into a glass of water. Take three times a day, before meals.
TO TREAT chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis
TABLETS (200mg) Take 1-2 tablets a day.


Medicinal uses

In a number of studies, the silymarin in milk thistle has been shown to have antioxidant properties which help to protect the liver and other parts of the body from damage by free radicals. This is why milk thistle is recommended as a supplementary treatment for chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Spanish studies have also noted silymarin's anti-inflammatory action, and its soothing powers are sometimes employed to treat piles.

In addition, milk thistle infusions and tinctures are known to calm muscular spasms and stimulate the flow of bile from the gall bladder. They are therefore recommended as a treatment for bile-flow and minor digestive problems. The plant is also reputed to stimulate menstruation.


Milk thistle grows readily from seed. Plant in a wild part of the garden in a sunny, well-drained spot.

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