Milk thistle

What's this

Milk thistle, also called Silybum marianum and Cardus marianus, is a biennial herbaceous plant widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin, but is also found in the Middle East and in some parts of Latin America. It prefers dry and sunny places. It can often also infest ruins and uncultivated land. It belongs to the Asteraceae family and has a vigorous stem, which can reach up to one and a half meters in height, thorny leaves and purple-red flowers and fruits, also called seeds, wrapped in pappus, the classic down carried by the wind. The milk thistle blooms in the late spring of the second year (April, May) while the initially closed fruits ripen in summer. After opening they are spread everywhere thanks to the action of the wind. The milk thistle is a plant with recognized and ancient medicinal properties. There are traces of its use as early as the first century after Christ. Two thousand years ago the thistle was used to treat liver diseases and even today, this plant is mainly used for the same reason. The parts used are the leaves, near the inflorescences and the seeds (fruits).


Milk thistle is attributed hepatoprotective and curative properties of various liver diseases, such as chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. Studies on the effects of this plant have shown better results in diseases caused by poisoning by mushrooms or alcohol, while the effects for diseases with irreversible degeneration of liver cells have been found to be milder. The phytocomplex (all the extracts of the plant as a whole) has shown beneficial effects on the hepatic parenchyma, i.e. on the cellular tissue, favoring its reconstitution from damage caused by alcohol or drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid and paracetamol or poisonous mushrooms such as Amanita phalloides. The active ingredients of the plant, with a positive action on the liver, are flavonoids that seem to have an effective hepatoprotective action and which form a mixture, called silymarin, with recognized antioxidant properties. In addition, there are also resins, mucilages, vitamins, essential oils, bitter principles that are used for the essences of liqueurs and tyramine, a substance that is not recommended for use by hypertensive people, as it is able to significantly increase blood pressure. The extracts of milk thistle, on the other hand, have been shown to be effective for all liver diseases, also benefiting kidney function. The silymarin-based phytocomplex seems to be able to reduce the levels of hepatic transaminases, bilirubin and all other indicators of liver function, leading to an improvement in discomfort related to liver diseases, such as dyspepsia, asthenia and inappetence.

  • Woolen thistle

    The woolen thistle has the scientific name of "Dipsacus fullonum" and belongs to the Dipsacaceae family. The flowering period, in most cases, is between the month of ...
  • Holy thistle

    The holy thistle is a thorny biennial herbaceous plant which, during the first year of life, manages to produce a rosette of leaves, while during the second year it produces the floral scape, which can ...
  • Mushroom cultivation

    The cardoncello, whose scientific name is Pleurotus Erengii, has a fleshy cap and a long, generally white stem; it grows spontaneously in Puglia and Basilicata. The substrate idea ...
  • Cornflower

    Cornflower, whose scientific name is Centaurea cyanus, is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, the family of flowering plants to which the sunflower also belongs. ...

How to use

To express its therapeutic properties, milk thistle is used in the form of herbal tea, decoction, capsules, tablets, creams and mother tincture. The creams are made for topical use, ie external, by applying them to the skin to prevent aging and relieve erythema, sunburn and the damage of psoriasis. Milk thistle herbal tea is prepared with 5 grams of crushed fruit in 200 ml of boiling water, to be added to the crushed seeds after bringing it to a boil. The preparation is left to infuse for about 10 minutes in order to release all its active ingredients. The recommended dosage is one cup of infusion several times a day. Dry milk thistle extract is sold in capsule and tablet form. The recommended dosage is 10, 15 mg per day of active ingredient to be taken between meals. The dosage of milk thistle mother tincture is 20, 40 drops, 2, 3 times a day. The drops should be diluted in a little water and kept for at least one minute under the tongue in order to fully absorb the active ingredient. The tablets or tablets are sold in packs of 60 tablets of 400 mg each. The recommended dosage is 2 tablets three times a day, before meals, to promote digestion, while to restore the proper functioning of the liver, the same amount of tablets should be taken, but after meals. The dosage of the capsules, on the other hand, is three capsules twice a day, to be taken during meals with a glass of water.

Milk thistle: Cost of products

Milk thistle products are easily found in health food stores, pharmacies, parapharmacies and e-commerce sites. Product costs vary by purchasing channel and brand. The milk thistle ointment, in a 50 ml pack, costs about 13 euros. The mother tincture of milk thistle in the form of drops contained in bottles of 50 ml, costs about 10 euros. A pack of 60 tablets of 400 mg of dry extract, on the other hand, costs 7.50 euros. The active ingredients of milk thistle, in the form of capsules sold in packs of 50 pieces, cost 11.50 euros.

Video: Milk Thistle Liver Detox Side Effects

Previous Article

Plum Oak Root Fungus – Treating A Plum Tree With Armillaria Rot

Next Article

Basic principles of preserving vegetables in the cellar