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Milk Thistle: Detoxification and the Liver

With all of the toxic substances in our environment from the food we eat, the air we breathe and other sources, some people feel it is necessary to detoxify their bodies from time to time. Milk thistle is beneficial for its detoxification properties, which support liver function.

Milk thistle has long been considered a natural way to eliminate impurities from the body by way of the liver. The human liver acts as a filter for the impurities our bodies acquire every day. The liver takes what our bodies need to survive and sends the excess into the bowel, where it is expelled as waste matter. When this filter is overtaxed by over-consumption of alcohol or drugs, or from liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, it cannot function properly. Milk thistle has the amazing ability to protect the liver from damage and to assist in regeneration of new cells and replace already damaged cells.

How does it work? The active chemical in milk thistle is silymarin. Silymarin functions as an antioxidant, inhibiting the factors responsible for liver damage and promoting the growth of healthy cells. In clinical trials, silymarin has been proven effective in treating and preventing many types of chronic liver diseases.

Milk thistle can be taken as a supplement in powder, capsule, and liquid extract form, though some prefer to drink it as a tea. To make a tea from milk thistle extract, simply combine the dry herb with near-boiling water. Though the FDA has not yet evaluated milk thistle, the standard dosage for healthy people is 200mg of a milk thistle supplement containing at least 80% silymarin taken 2 to 3 times per day.

As always, check with your healthcare professional before adding milk thistle to your otherwise healthy diet. Those with allergies to things such as ragweed and dandelions should not take milk thistle since it may cause an allergic reaction in this population. The same applies to pregnant women, women with endometriosis and women with uterine fibroids, as milk thistle has estrogen-like properties. Reactions are rare, but they do occur. So if you want to cleanse your body, try adding milk thistle to your diet. It helps the liver work more efficiently and, as a result, may help detoxify your body more effectively.


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