By Salma Awwad
The plant’s powerful list of benefits includes liver protection, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.
First it was quinoa. Then came the Chia seed. And now the spotlight is on Milk Thistle.
Although it’s been around since the Greco-Roman era, Milk Thistle has been gaining popularity in the mainstream culture and fitness scene due to its endless repertoire of benefits and virtually zero side-effects.
The plant, which carries the scientific name Silybum Marianum, is eaten as a vegetable for salads and a substitute for spinach. The seeds are roasted for use as a coffee substitute, added to protein shakes, energy drinks, and fortified cereals and even encapsulated into supplements.
Milk Thistle gets its name from the milky white fluid that comes from the plant's leaves when they are crushed. It is native to the Mediterranean region, commonly grows from 2 to 7 feet in height, with spiny leaves and reddish-purple, thistle-shaped flowers.
The United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have catalogued more than 400 scientific studies of Milk Thistle and its active compounds in their medicine database.
The studies showed that Milk Thistle has been historically recognised as one of the most beneficial herbal remedies and treatments available.
Today, Milk Thistle is still one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. It’s mainly used for liver disorders and is the number one recommended plant extract for the protection and detoxification of vital liver functions.
But other benefits documented by the NYU Langone Medical Centre include:
- It is effective in the treatment of the skin condition rosacea.
- It is a powerful antioxidant which works to maintain health and energy by protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals.
- It can protect against fetal damage caused by alcohol.
- Milk Thistle improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, other experimental and clinical studies, found that Milk Thistle may improve:
- Menstrual cycles
- Cholesterol levels
- Seasonal allergies
- Has anti-inflammatory properties and numerous anti-aging properties.
Some people use milk thistle for diseases of the spleen, prostate cancer, malaria, depression, uterine complaints and hangovers.
The recommended dosage of the supplement is 200 mg 2 times a day, and the extract should contain 60 percent Silymarin.
But although it is gentle in nature, it might reduce the effects of oral contraceptives and the body break down estrogen pills to get rid of them. So before jumping on the bandwagon, it might be a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before you start reaping the benefits of this little magical flower.For all the latest health and fitness news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.