Milk Thistle: Liver’s Super Sidekick

An icon of milk thistle

If you’re familiar with herbal supplements, you’ve likely heard of Milk Thistle. Sometimes considered a weed, milk thistle presents a wide array of benefits for the human and animal body alike. It’s traditionally native to Southern Europe and Asia but has since spread around the globe. Often used in its ground-up form, milk thistle releases a milky-white liquid when its leaves are crushed (hence the name).

The incredibly diverse uses for milk thistle are responsible for its recent spike in popularity, and rightfully so. Mainly used for its benefits to the liver, milk thistle acts as both a protectant and detoxifier. It has demonstrated positive impacts like flushing out harmful toxins from medications, antibiotics, free radicals and heavy metals. The active ingredient responsible is silymarin.

Protects & Repairs

Prescription medication like corticosteroids and antihistamines can do a decent amount of damage to the liver if used often. And for pets with seasonal allergies, this is usually the case. Animals who suffer from seasonal allergies are generally taking these drugs on a daily basis, and for extended periods of time. While steroids may soothe the symptoms of an allergy, they create a whole army of issues elsewhere within the body. These drugs can weaken the normal function of the liver, leaving it unable to filter out toxins and free radicals as efficiently.

Milk thistle is a wonderful hepatoprotective (meaning it prevents damage to the liver). It does this by detoxifying the liver, which can naturally accumulate harmful toxins from almost anything that passes through. In encouraging those congregating toxins to move out of the liver, milk thistle can free the liver up to maintain its proper function. As mentioned in an earlier post, Western medication can eventually take a toll on the liver. All those extra foreign ingredients can be extremely taxing on the liver’s day-to-day operations. For a dog who has been taking a prescription medication quite regularly, milk thistle can aid in protecting the liver from future damage, as well as repairing the damage that’s already been done. To protect and repair, milk thistle sweeps out the environmental toxins and free radicals that will ultimately cause damage to our cells.

In the scope of allergy season...

Milk thistle is included in our allergy line because of its monumental impacts on the liver. An internal disharmony within the liver is what ultimately gives way to allergic reactions. When the liver gets clogged up with toxins, it overreacts to non-threatening intruders to protect itself, telling the immune system to attack things that aren’t worth attacking. The liver is already so overwhelmed trying to filter out all the bad stuff built up within, it ups the security level so as to limit anything else that may try to shack up inside the liver (read more about this interaction in our first post). This is when detoxification becomes so important!

other benefits of milk thistle

Milk thistle has also shown other positive impacts on the body beyond the realm of the liver. Some of those include:

  • Decreasing the risk of cancer (through sweeping out toxins and free radicals)
  • Controlling symptoms of diabetes (by helping with glycemic control and decreasing blood sugar levels)
  • Boosting kidney, pancreas, and gallbladder health (also through detoxification)
  • Supporting healthy skin (by filtering out free radicals that cause oxidative stress)

Herbsmith Milk Thistle

Milk thistle helps to maintain normal, healthy liver function by supporting the body from exposure to heavy metals or environmental toxins. Milk thistle also helps with healthy waste elimination from the body and supports normal hepatic function. It has also been shown to support the metabolic functioning of the liver and normal cleansing of the liver from impurities.

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