Undergoing an occasional milk thistle liver detox is one of the more salutary things you can do for you and your liver. A milk thistle liver detox will not only cleanse your liver of the many toxins that have a tendency to build up in it, but studies have shown that milk thistle can also have beneficial long term effects on your liver. A milk thistle regiment may also help you if you are undergoing chemotherapy or are having other problems that involve your liver.
How does it work?
The main active ingredient in a milk thistle liver detox product is silybin. An alternate name for silybin is Silymarin. Silybin is a plant byproduct that research has found to have certain antioxidant properties, which are particularly advantageous to the liver.
What are these beneficial effects?
Protects and Strengthens Liver Function
The central benefit of Silymarin is in helping protect the liver. For this reason, physicians currently use milk thistle to help treat patients with liver problems such as liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is the damaging of the cells in the liver by scarring or hardening. Alcoholism and hepatitis are the most common causes of this condition but it may also result from other causes.
Milk thistle helps in the treatment of liver cirrhosis because it works as an antioxidant. Oxidation is the process that occurs when free radicals release into the blood system and weaken healthy cells by pulling oxygen cells away from them. This process destabilizes the healthy cells and makes them easy candidates from predatory cells (like cancer cells). Silymarin protects these cells in the liver and in doing so increases the effectiveness of the liver.
Some recent research has questioned the effectiveness of the milk thistle in the treatment of liver cirrhosis. These studies found that milk thistle is actually not effective in helping the liver. A further more comprehensive research review conducted by the United States department of Health and Human Services, however, could not conclude whether milk thistle was or was not effective in treating conditions related to liver health. The discrepancy may have to do with a question of dosing. In studies that used an insufficiently small amount of milk thistle, no benefit resulted. However, when treatments involved a substantial amount of milk thistle, study observers noted Silymarin’s beneficial effects.
For the same reason that milk thistle benefits suffers of liver cirrhosis, Silymarin also helps hepatitis suffers. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver cells. It appears the antioxidant effects of milk thistle also helps against this condition.
The Antidote for Death Cap
One of milk thistle’s most prominent uses, however, has been as an antidote for the dangerous mushroom commonly called death cap. Amanita phalloides—the pleasant sounding name for what is better termed death cap—is responsible for more than half of all mushroom related deaths every year. There are few known cures, but medical professionals have long known that milk thistle is the most effective way to prevent death when someone ingests this deadly mushroom.
That is because death cap works by attacking the sufferer’s liver. People eat the mushroom when someone mistakes it for one of its non-toxic cousins and uses it in preparing a meal. Death cap’s sweet taste offers no clue of the vicious effects it will have once it reaches the liver. This attack on the liver makes it a particularly difficult poison to treat because by the time it starts to show symptoms it has typically already severely compromised the victim’s health. Physicians give patients penicillin to fight the infection and silybinin to protect the undamaged liver cells. Often patients still require a complete liver transplant in order to survive even with this treatment.
Studies have also shown that milk thistle is effective in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Milk thistle protects the liver against the harmful chemical effects of the chemotherapy chemicals on the liver.
Although some critics of milk thistle’s benefits have not fully accepted it yet, new research is likely to confirm milk thistles’ beneficial uses as an aid to liver function. It may also turn out to have other positive health properties we have not yet discovered.
Copyright © 2006 Liver Facts.