WHAT IS MILK THISTLE?
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. Its use goes back a long way in history, when it was used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. It was used by the Greeks to protect the liver, and is still used for this purpose today.
The milk thistle originates from the Mediterranean and is widespread from the Iberian Peninsula to southern Russia, northern Africa and Anatolia. It also grows in South and North America and South Australia. It is sometimes wild in Central Europe. Milk thistle likes sunny, dry and rocky soils, roadsides, screes and pastures.
We use the fruits, which contain three active ingredients, called with one name – silymarin. The action of silymarin has not been fully understood yet. Currently there are 3 methods of action that are being studied:
- first action is stimulating protein synthesis, which causes liver cell’s regeneration
- second effect of silymarin is thought to be preventing toxins from passing through the liver cells
- the third action is its antioxidant activity.
All three actions have a preventive effect on the liver.