Milk thistle, a pink thorny plant, has been known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, southern Russia, Asia Minor and North Africa but now also grows wild in certain areas of the USA. It is also known as St. Mary’s thistle and lady’s thistle. The plant can grow to seven feet tall and is drought resistant. The entire plant can be consumed – the flowers and leaves as food and the seeds as a substitute for coffee.

The medicinal properties of milk thistle are found in the seeds, specifically, the core ingredient, silymarin. It is a bioflavonoid complex consisting of silibinin, silychristin and silydianin but it is the silibinin that makes milk thistle so effectively therapeutic.

Silibinin is also a phytonutrient. A phytonutrient is a plant compound that promotes human health. Silibinin’s acts as a phytonutrient by providing anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and cardiovascular benefits.

Milk thistle’s anti-oxidant properties prevent cell damage and encourage cell generation and repair by stimulating the liver to produce more of the enzymes and proteins that are needed to heal the cells. It also prevents toxins from entering the cells by altering the structure of the cell membranes.

Known as a smart herb, milk thistle has the ability to increase the activity of certain enzymes while containing the activity of others – for example, it can generate new cells when required, arrest the growth of bad cells such as cancer cells and target specific cells that need repair.

It has been used for centuries to treat liver problems, menstrual troubles, depression and to encourage the production of breast milk. Because it encourages breast milk, the Europeans dedicated milk thistle to the Virgin Mary and called it Marian thistle. It is also know to alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins.

Over 300 scientific studies conducted over the last 20 plus years have confirmed the curative properties of milk thistle. The most significant being its exceptional ability to detoxify the liver and prevent liver disease – in fact, in 1986, Germany’s Commission E approved milk thistle as a treatment for liver diseases such as toxic liver damage, cirrhosis, hepatitis and inflammatory liver disease.

Milk thistle has practically no side effects and even the medical community has never disputed its remarkable properties.