Liver Health: What is Milkthistle?

Herb: Milkthistle

What is it? 

Milkthistle (Silybum marianum) is a biennial plant that grows native in Europe and can be found in parts of Canada and the United States. It has been used for centuries as liver tonic. Modern studies have shown it truly is a superstar when it comes to protecting and keeping the liver healthy.

What is it good for?

The seeds of this plant contain silymarin and silybinin (among others) which act as antioxidants to protect the liver from toxins. This wonderful little plant has been shown to be particularly helpful for inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) as well as alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. The medicinal components in the seed are not water soluble so it is best administered in capsule form standardized to 70-80% silymarin.

Is it safe?

Milkthistle is very safe when used in the right doses. Because your liver is your main processor of medications and milkthistle works on the liver, make sure you check with a qualified health care professional before taking this herb, especially if you are taking medications, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Katie Smith ND
Clinical Resident; Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
2917 Hebb Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V5N 5K4