5 Health Benefits Of Milk Thistle

If you've never heard of milk thistle, now is the perfect time to considering adding it to your daily routine. Here are the benefits.
Milk thistle with seeds

I grew up in a home where the kitchen was full of vitamins and supplements. It seemed that my mom had a lot of ailments, and whenever there was an ache, pain, or digestive issue, her preference was to tackle it naturally rather than with modern medicine. There was liquid acidophilus in the refrigerator, various types of vinegar, and cupboards so full of tablets, caplets, and powders that they’d get lost way in the back of the shelves and never get used. Despite my mom’s belief in natural remedies, she continued battling chronic illness, which ultimately made me skeptical about what any of these products were helping.

Living a healthy lifestyle is integral to who I am; it’s engrained into how I identify with myself and the world around me. I haven’t needed much medical or medicinal intervention in my lifetime, so I hadn’t spent much time considering the pros and cons of natural remedies. I just knew that I had a skewed perspective because my mom’s approach didn’t seem effective. Also, when you combine a stack of supplements with other medications, who’s to determine the effectiveness of any one thing?

My mindset regarding natural remedies has shifted by leaps and bounds. Even while I may question a natural remedy for an ailment, my objective is also to avoid being dependent on any kind of prescription medication. Modern medicine can be difficult to outrun as the aging process takes its toll on the body. That’s especially true for women as our body goes through fundamental changes through our 40s and 50s. Is there scientific truth to the medicinal effectiveness of herbs and plants?

What Is Milk Thistle?

Ground milk thistle

The quick answer is that milk thistle is a plant. It has a flowering purple bulb that looks a bit fuzzy or almost prickly. According to Wikipedia, milk thistle is an upright herb that can grow to be 12 to 79 inches tall and has an overall conical shape. Milk thistle has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, although there is little clinical evidence that it has any medicinal effect. However, perhaps you’ve reached a point where you’re willing to explore the benefits and revisit what natural herbs and plants can do for your body.

Most milk thistle products are standardized preparations made from the plant’s seeds to contain 70% to 80% of silymarin, a thistle species.

Historically, people have used milk thistle for liver disorders and gallbladder issues. The suggestion is that milk thistle reduces inflammation, which is why people will use it for a myriad of diagnoses not limited to the liver and gallbladder.

When you think about it, whenever there is a sickness or problem with the body’s function, the root of that issue is always inflammation. I once heard a doctor say, “Every disease is a disease of inflammation.” That statement changed my mindset from treating illness to living a lifestyle to prevent illness and continuously promote health. This means that living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle in general can truly be the best medicine!

While milk thistle is widely used for liver inflammation, hepatitis, and gallbladder issues, there is a more extensive list of disorders and issues that have been known to be helped by using a milk thistle supplement:

  • Bone and joint health
  • Diabetes
  • Indigestion
  • Age-related cognitive decline

Bones And Joints

Silymarin can be a potent antioxidant herb that can help to build bone and prevent bone loss. The supplement can help inhibit bone loss and promote the growth of healthy new bone. Studies have also reported significant reductions in the severity of disease activity, swelling, joint tenderness, and overall reduction in joint pain.

Diabetes And High Blood Sugar

Woman with a box of supplements

Studies in diabetics have shown that milk thistle drives glucose levels down. There is evidence to show that it is regarded as a potent agent against insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. For diabetics, medical research suggests that milk thistle, combined with traditional treatment, can improve diabetes. For those interested in a preventative approach and as part of a healthy lifestyle, milk thistle has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol. Research has also found that it can help improve insulin resistance.


Research shows that milk thistle supports effective gastrointestinal movement. This helps your body move food along at an appropriate pace, which keeps the gut flora in check. When digestion is moving at the right pace, you’ll have reduced bloating and discomfort. Silymarin is mainly metabolized in the intestines by gut bacteria and can help promote overall gut health.

Active and health grey haired woman with a kayak

Studies have shown that milk thistle increases resistance to oxidative stress, which is a potential cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Traditionally, silymarin has been used to treat neurological conditions for over 2000 years. The reduction in oxidative stress can help improve overall cognition and treat degenerative conditions that affect brain health and the mind.


There are various studies to prove that milk thistle is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. With that, it can certainly be a potent addition to your healthy daily routine. The best medicine of all is preventing illness and inflammation as we age. Keep moving, keep your mind active, and incorporate supplements like milk thistle, which can support an ongoing anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Read Next:

What Is “Inflammaging” and How Can Calcium Help? 

5 Best Anti-inflammatory Diets

3 Anti-Inflammatory Smoothies for Better Health


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