Author’s Note: With the focus on the need to keep our liver, the major organ used in daily detoxification of our blood, in a healthy state, I wanted to share this bit of research information about a powerful herb commonly used to aid in liver health and detox programs.
Many people do not derive the benefit from any dietary change because their livers have been overwhelmed from years of uncontrolled diet or environmental stresses. As their diet improves, their bodies continue to struggle with the release of toxins that have been stored in their bodies along with a liver that is working at a low efficiency. With the increased exposure to daily toxins from every direction, simple diet changes and exercise often do not have the desired results.
While a detailed examination should be conducted for any patient, it is not unusual that a dietary detoxification, supplemented with herbs in the form of food, food supplements or herbal decoctions, be administered as part of a health management program.
Milk Thistle is only one herb and may be considered part of a comprehensive program.
I am excerpting from Dr. Michael Savage’s “The Antioxident Cookbook” (1995).
Scientific Name: Silybum marianum
Parts Used: Seeds
Dosage: Seeds: 1 teaspoon seeds steeped in 1/2 cup water; 1 to 1 1/2 cupfuls per day, 1 tablespoon or mouthful at a time.
Recent Scientific Findings
One active component extracted from milk thistle seeds, silymarin, is a flavonoid long recognized for its ability to benefit people with liver disorders and as a protective compound against liver-damaging agents as diverse mushroom toxins, carbon tetrachloride, and other chemicals. This flavonoid demonstrates good antioxidant properties, both in vivo and in vitro.
Chilean scientists found that silymarin also increases the content of liver (+)-cyanidanol-3 (cathequin). These experiments also showed an increase of glutathione content and antioxidant activity in the intestine and stomach. The effects selectively occur only in the digestive tract, and not in the kidney, lung, and spleen.
A double blind, prospective, randomized study performed on 170 patients with cirrhosis of the liver supported the fact that silymarin protects the liver. All patients received the same treatment with a mean observation period of 41 months. The 4-year survival rate was significantly higher in silymarin-treated patients than those in the placebo group. No side effects of drug treatment were observed.
Another study found that Milk Thistle may offer us some protection against the toxic side-effects of the common pain-reliving drug acetaminophen, which is a widely used analgesic and fever medication. In overdosage severe hepatotoxicity may result characterized by glutathione (GSH) depletion, suppression of GSH biosynthesis, and liver damage. GSH is considered the most important biomolecule against chemically-induced cytotoxicity.
Silybin, a soluble form of silymarin, is thought to exert a membrane-stabilizing action which inhibits or prevent lipid peroxidation. Silybin and silmarin may be useful in protecting the liver in many cases besides acetaminophen overdosage. Alchohol also depletes GSH and these flavonoids offer protection for those cho continue to drink. Interestingly, silybin dihemisuccinate remains medicine’s most important antidote to poisoning by the mushroom toxins a amantin and phalloidin.
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