Milk Thistle

Last Updated: August 21, 2023

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) contains silymarin, a complex of plant compounds known for their hepatoprotective (liver-protecting) properties.

Milk Thistle is most often used for

What is milk thistle?

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a medicinal plant belonging to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. It is native to Southern Europe, Central Asia, and Ethiopia,[1] and grows particularly well on the sunny slopes of the Mediterranean countries. Milk thistle’s leaves have characteristic white, “milky” veins, and the plant can grow up to 6 feet tall. It typically blooms from June to August, after which its black seeds are harvested to be used for medicinal purposes. Milk thistle can now be found throughout California, South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia.[2][3]

Although the terms milk thistle and silymarin are often used interchangeably, silymarin is a complex extracted from the dried seeds and fruits of milk thistle.[2][4][5] Milk thistle extracts are typically odorless and contain 70–80% of silymarin.[6]

What are milk thistle’s main benefits?

Research on milk thistle is primarily focused on its main bioactive extract, silymarin. Please refer to the silymarin page for a description of silymarin’s main benefits.

What are milk thistle’s main drawbacks?

Research on milk thistle is primarily focused on its main bioactive extract, silymarin. Please refer to the silymarin page for a description of silymarin’s main drawbacks.

How does milk thistle work?

Research on milk thistle is primarily focused on its main bioactive extract, silymarin. Please refer to the silymarin page for a description of silymarin’s mechanisms of action.

What else is Milk Thistle known as?
Note that Milk Thistle is also known as:
  • Marian thistle
  • Mary thistle
  • St Mary’s thistle
  • Our Lady’s thistle
  • Holy thistle
  • Sow thistle
  • Blessed Virgin thistle
  • Christ’s crown
  • Venue thistle
  • Heal thistle
  • Variegated Thistle
  • Wild Artichoke
  • Carduus Marianus
  • Silybum marianum
Milk Thistle should not be confused with:
Examine Database: Milk Thistle
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Update History
2023-08-21 00:30:03

New studies added to the database

minor

We added some extra studies related to liver enzymes to this database

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Research Breakdown

🚧 Under Renovation 🚧

The information in this section is slated for renovation — it will soon be transformed into a more usable (and readable!) form in the coming months. As such, the text in this section may be out of date and not up to Examine’s current standards for writing style.

References
  1. ^Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.: Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Cited December 14, 2023(2023)
  2. ^Milk Thistle \(Aug 2020)
  3. ^Saller R, Brignoli R, Melzer J, Meier RAn updated systematic review with meta-analysis for the clinical evidence of silymarin.Forsch Komplementmed.(2008-Feb)
  4. ^Post-White J, Ladas EJ, Kelly KMAdvances in the use of milk thistle (Silybum marianum).Integr Cancer Ther.(2007-Jun)
  5. ^Karimi G, Vahabzadeh M, Lari P, Rashedinia M, Moshiri M"Silymarin", a promising pharmacological agent for treatment of diseases.Iran J Basic Med Sci.(2011-Jul)
  6. ^Jacobs BP, Dennehy C, Ramirez G, Sapp J, Lawrence VAMilk thistle for the treatment of liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Am J Med.(2002-Oct-15)
Examine Database References
  1. Milk Production - Peila C, Coscia A, Tonetto P, Spada E, Milani S, Moro G, Fontana C, Vagliano L, Tortone C, Di Bella E, Bertino EEvaluation of the galactogogue effect of silymarin on mothers of preterm newborns (<32 weeks).Pediatr Med Chir.(2015-Dec-29)
  2. Milk Production - Francesco Di Pierro, Alberto Callegari, Domenico Carotenuto, Marco Mollo TapiaClinical efficacy, safety and tolerability of BIO-C (micronized Silymarin) as a galactagogueActa Biomed.(2008 Dec)
  3. Acne Symptoms - Ahmed Salih Sahib, Haidar Hamid Al-Anbari, Mohammed Salih, and Fatima AbdullahEffects of Oral Antioxidants on Lesion Counts Associated with Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Patients with Papulopustular AcneJournal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology Research .()