2,000 Year Old Liver Remedy

Holiday parties, dinners and family get-togethers are likely to be in abundance more than any other time of the year.  You are not alone if your body has, at one time or another suffered the effects of too much alcohol or rich and creamy foods that leave our livers screaming for help.  Milk thistle may help buffer the blow of a lifestyle that can take its toll on your liver.

For more than 2,000 years, Europeans have used milk thistle seeds for treatment of liver disorders.  One of the first documented references was made by Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79), a Roman Physician who wrote, “The juice of the plant, mixed with honey is excellent for carrying off bile.”  By the Middles Ages, according to the National Cancer Institute, milk thistle was used extensively as a popular antidote for the liver.

Milk thistle (silymarin) is a flowering herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for a variety of ailments, especially liver problems. Silymarin, which can be extracted from the seeds of the milk thistle plant, is believed to be the biologically active part of the herb. The seeds are used to prepare capsules, extracts, powders, and tinctures.

Milk thistle (silymarin) works by strengthening the outer membrane of the liver cells, making it harder for toxins to penetrate.  Secondly, silymarin is a very potent antioxidant that offers protection against tobacco, heavy alcohol consumption, exposure to environmental chemicals and medications.

It is typically used to treat liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation), and gallbladder disorders.  It has also been used to treat adult onset diabetes as well as certain tumors.

Over the past thirty years, extensive clinical research has found it effective in treating liver disease.  There has been no evidence of toxicity aside from a mild laxative effect at very high doses.

In one double-blind study, silymarin (the active component of milk thistle) significantly reduced the mortality of patients with liver cirrhosis. The effect was most pronounced in patients with alcohol-induced cirrhosis.  Additionally, silymarin reduces collagen deposits in the liver (fatty liver).

In another double-blind study, silymarin was shown to decrease liver enzymes in patients with liver disease.  Liver biopsies revealed a clear improvement and decreased fatty deposits.

Hundreds of research studies, mostly in Europe, have confirmed the remarkable ability of milk thistle to protect the liver against virtually all types of damage: from accidental exposure to chemical pollutants, toxic side effects of medications, liver diseases like hepatitis and even the self inflicted damage from overindulgence of rich food and alcohol.

The United States National Library of Medicine has cataloged more than 300 scientific studies of milk thistle and its active compounds in their medicine database.

Standardized extracts make the active constituents of herbs more effective. They isolate the most important compounds and purify them to predictable dosages.  The most common form is milk thistle extract 200 mg (seed) standardized to 80% Silymarin.  One capsule taken daily is a common dose.

For those of you who suffer from the occasional hangover, you are more likely to find relief from B vitamins and hydration.  Prevention is always best and by drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage and two glasses or water at bedtime, you may save yourself from a very unproductive and painful day.


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