What is Silymarin?
The world around us is astounding. There are hundreds of plants that create vital antioxidants and compounds that can help us be safer, healthier, and feel better all around. Silymarin is one such antioxidant that is naturally occurring in the world around us. Silymarin is a flavonoid complex that is derived from the milk thistle plant.
It contains silybin, silydianin, and silychristin. Milk thistle, commonly known as a weed that produces a milky white liquid when ground, is technically a weed but has been subject to many tests to find out what beneficial properties they hold. Traditionally, milk thistle has been used to help nursing mothers increase their milk supply but it may also be used to help protect the liver, a decongestant, and so much more.
Silymarin has long been in use and since it was first used for medical purposes in the 1960s it has been the subject of many studies to find out just what makes it so beneficial to the body. It has been used for a wide range of medical problems like varicose veins and menstrual pain as well as kidney disorders. This naturally occurring antioxidant may be better for you than you could ever know.
5 Benefits of Silymarin
There are tons of benefits of silymarin that are not backed by science but rather by wives tales but there are an equal amount that has been tried and tested. These five scientific backed benefits should be enough to convince you of the benefits of silymarin.
1. Treatment of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
For those that suffer from alcohol related damage to the liver, silymarin has been found to help repair some of the damage. It has also been found to help increase the life expectancy of those that have been diagnosed with severe cirrhosis of the liver. Those that were subjected to a scientific study found that the group that was injected with silymarin had a 58% survival rate as opposed to those that received the placebo and only had a 39% survival rate. Silymarin encourages the production of liver cells which means that it can help to improve the function of the liver and may be able to help regenerate liver cells that have been severely damaged.
2. Cancer Fighting Properties
Silymarin has also been found to help protect the body against a wide range of cancers. A study that was recently performed showed that silymarin was able to effectively slow the progress of many cancers including prostate cancer, colon, breast, cervical, lung and many other forms of cancer. The study found that silymarin was effective in preventing the growth of the blood vessels that feed cancer within the body. There are currently studies being done in the United States and Europe to see just what silymarin can do in regards to cancer prevention.
3. Increase Low Milk Supply
Milk thistle and silymarin has been proven to help stimulate the production of breast milk in nursing mothers. The solution is often taken in the form of a tea or a tablet. The silymarin acts as a stimulant that is much like the hormones our bodies produce naturally to help produce more milk for the babies that are nursing. Milk thistle is often made into a tea called mother’s milk tea and is a safe, effective, and natural way to boost low milk supply for nursing mothers.
4. Stimulates Protein Synthesis and Decongestion of the Liver
Silymarin works as a stimulant to help with the protein synthesis and therefore production of new liver cells. The silymarin works to promote the production of new liver cells which is why it is so effective in helping to treat cirrhosis and chronic liver damage. It also helps to promote the movement of bile through the liver which can help to create a healthier liver that does not have as much bile build up. For those that do have liver damage, the decongestion of the liver is essential to restore health and to restore proper function of the liver and liver tissue.
5. Antioxidant Properties
Silymarin has antioxidant properties that have been found to help protect the body and its tissues and systems from free radicals. Free radicals work to uncouple or unlike the bonds within the cells of our bodies which leads to cell damage that is difficult to repair or reverse. Silymarin helps to prevent the damage that is caused by free radicals so that you can feel better, be healthier, and not have to worry about the damage that free radicals, which are all around us, can cause to the body. Though it might not seem like a huge deal, free radicals are around us all the time and without the proper antioxidant protection, they can cause a great deal of damage to our cells.
These are just a few benefits of silymarin that have been documented in scientific studies. There are just as many, if not more, old wives tales that extoll the virtues of milk thistle and all that it can do for the body.
Silymarin Side Effects and Warnings
Though silymarin does have a great number of benefits, there are also some side effects that you may want to consider. For nursing mothers, it can increase the bilirubin in your child through their taking in the silymarin through breast milk. If you see that your child is jaundiced or if a blood test shows increased bilirubin levels you may want to consider discontinuing use.
Other side effects include allergic skin reactions for some, bloating, blood clots, constipation, collapse for some, decreased platelets and more. You may also see that you have elevated liver enzymes, fever, gas, headache, heartburn, and even eczema. The key to avoiding these side effects is to take the time to really consider why you are taking it and to consider what the proper dosage for your own situation might be.
Silymarin is a great supplement to take if you take the time to pay close attention to what it is doing to your body and to how your body is reacting. If you see any of the mentioned side effects or any side effects that may not be listed, you should discontinue use immediately and take the time to make an appointment with your doctor to see what the issue is.
The biggest issue with silymarin and milk thistle is skin issues and digestive issues. Some of the most common side effects are going to be changes in your skin that can be noticed by dryness, discomfort or even rashes that may break out. Similarly, the most common digestive issues are either constipation or diarrhea. Obviously, these side effects are going to be more intense dependent on what amount you are taking and how long you have been taking silymarin or milk thistle. Generally, severe reactions are going to be immediate with less severe reactions taking as much as two or three days to show up.
Silymarin Daily Dosage
The amount of silymarin that you need does differ across the board relative to what you are taking the supplement for. For nursing mothers looking to increase supply, you may be advised to drink two to three cups of milk thistle tea each day. For those taking silymarin to help reverse the liver damage, the dosage can range from 160-800 milligrams dependent on the overall level of damage and what your particular doctor prescribes.
Though this is a natural supplement, it is advised that you speak with a doctor to see just what dosage is right for your particular situation and to find out just what you need to be taking. In most applications, any dosage is going to be broken up into three daily doses for even retention and absorption into the blood stream.