Detox Remedies: Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle is also known by its botanical names, Carduus Marianus and Silybum Marianum. This herb is currently one of the most well known and widely used natural remedies today. Milk Thistle has been used historically as a herbal remedy for liver, kidney and gall bladder problems.
Milk thistle is commonly used as a liver tonic. This herb is found as an ingredient in many modern detox supplements. This is mainly due to its effect on the liver, as the liver is one of the main organs for natural detoxification.
The liver is the main organ for processing food, nutrients and fats. It is also a vital organ for neutralising toxins, from pollution, food, alcohol, drugs and medication. Milk thistle helps the liver to neutralise these toxins.
This herbal remedy works by preventing the breakdown of glutathione. Glutathione is a peptide that acts as an enzyme in the natural detoxification process of the liver. Milk thistle works by supporting the natural detoxifying action of the liver. Studies have shown that Milk thistle can increase glutathione levels by over 30%.
The other main way in which Milk thistle works is by acting as an antioxidant. As an antioxidant, Milk thistle helps to neutralise harmful free radicals. We are exposed to free radicals in food, air and through our own metabolic processes (e.g. the breakdown of fat for energy). This herbal supplement also helps to regenerate and replace liver cells. This helps to maintain the healthy function of the organ.
Milk thistle also helps to break down fats and balance cholesterol levels. This is an important property in the prevention of gallstones. It does this by improving the flow of bile from the liver through the gall bladder into the small intestine. This is where the fats can be digested.
As most of the beneficial action of milk thistle is located in the liver, people with alcohol problems and alcoholics can be aided by its action. The liver is continuously detoxifying but excessive alcohol intake can slow down the process by depleting levels of glutathione. As mentioned earlier, milk thistle has been shown to significantly increase levels of glutathione and therefore improve liver function.
Milk thistle can also help to improve general energy levels. An indication of liver toxicity is tiredness in the morning and a difficulty in waking up. Milk thistle can improve energy levels if taken over a period of between 4 to 6 weeks.