Herbal Supplements
Scientific Trials on Milk Thistle

Herbal remedies, used for healing humans from various diseases, were in great favor with people in different parts of the world in all the times and long before the invention of the pharmaceutical drugs. Milk thistle is one of the herbs, familiar to and valued by the Europeans, which use its preparations, tinctures and teas for restoring liver, spleen, gallbladder, and kidney health and proper functioning.

Scientists, on the other hand, tend to believe only their own eyes, not the words of the others; therefore, they spend many years investigating and making conclusions about the effectiveness of milk thistle.

The intensive research of the herb started about thirty years ago. Hundreds of clinical studies had been conducted since then. Many of them showed very promising results in treating such health disorders as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis due to the alcohol abuse, Amanita phalloides (“death cup”) mushroom poisoning, diabetes, liver damage from drugs or toxins. However, as it is reported, a great number of studies have failed to prove beneficial impact of the herb. For the unknown reason many participants felt neither the improvement of their health, nor the relief of the symptoms of the above mentioned diseases.

Therefore, it is too soon to make any official conclusions about the health benefits of milk thistle. Many scholars note that the conducted trials were poorly designed, since they did not take into account the severity and duration of the participants’ symptoms. Besides, dosages and preparations, used in various trials, were significantly different. Moreover, researchers used products of different manufacturers, often with additional components. All these flaws allowed no proper comparison of the results.

As for the noticed side effects, the conclusions also differ greatly in many sources. Some report that milk thistle preparations are usually well tolerated. The only adverse reactions that may occur in patients, who take this herbal remedy, are gastrointestinal problems (nausea, diarrhea, dyspepsia, flatulence, abdominal bloating, abdominal fullness or pain, anorexia, and changes in bowel habits). However, many people experience allergic reactions to the plant; it is even reported about a case of anaphylactic shock after the dose of milk thistle preparation.

The results of other trials show that patients, treated with milk thistle, may experience many more side effects: headache, neuropsychological events (asthenia, malaise, and insomnia), arthralgia, rhinoconjunctivitis, and erectile dysfunction. In addition, plant’s tinctures might reduce the effectiveness of the oral contraceptives.

Nevertheless, optimists confirm that even pregnant and breastfeeding women can and should take the remedy in order to support kidneys during pregnancy and increase lactation while nursing. Two very short studies on this issue report of no side effects. However, it is not known whether taking milk thistle for a short period of time can promote any positive effect.

It is worthy to note that scientists keep on working on discovering benefits of the herb. For the time being they try to clarify the possible positive contribution of milk thistle to the treatment of acute viral hepatitis, high cholesterol, fibrosis, and skin conditions (psoriasis, cancer). There are also ongoing trials to clear up whether milk thistle is an effective anticarcinogen.

For the time being the question "to be or not to be" for the milk thistle among medicinal and phytotherapeutical means remain open. Hopefully, the herb will help many people overwhelm their diseases or at least will not worsen their health.

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Testimonials
nazi
2008-11-27 16:06:51
I have a greasy liver,I want to know, is milk thistle good for greasy liver?
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