Does milk thistle cause detox symptoms, or are the symptoms caused by something else? For anyone using milk thistle, it's important to understand all of the potential consequences of taking this or any other herb. Milk thistle is one of the best-studied herbs in the herbal remedy list, so you can learn a lot about its uses and possible drawbacks before taking it.
About Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herbal remedy created from the seeds of the milk thistle plant. It's been used for over 2,000 years as a liver cleanser and tonic.
The liver cleanses the blood of all impurities and performs myriad other functions throughout the day too. It's the largest organ of the body and is responsible for cleaning out toxins, bacteria, waste products and more. It plays a major role in hormone production and glucose storage. The liver is vital for our survival.
If you're frequently exposed to toxins, you may wish to provide extra liver support. For those living in urban areas, exposure to car exhaust fumes, chemicals from cleaning agents used in office buildings, and much more add to one's daily toxic exposure. Prescription and over the counter medication, artificial sweeteners in diet products, chemicals and coloring agents added to foods, and alcohol also add to the liver's toxic load.
Given the prevalence in modern society of all of these toxins, herbalists often recommend a course of milk thistle to rejuvenate the liver. Anyone who has been diagnosed with liver disease, received a liver transplant, or advised not to take herbs by their healthcare professional should not take milk thistle.
Does Milk Thistle Cause Detox Symptoms?
In order to answer the question, "Does milk thistle cause detox symptoms?" it's important to consider two things if you're experiencing detox symptoms. First, are the symptoms caused by the herb milk thistle? Or are you feeling detox symptoms because the milk thistle is actually working?
Side Effects of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle creates few side effects on its own. The most widely reported side effect of milk thistle use is stomach upset or diarrhea. Usually, these side effects disappear when you stop taking the herb. Rarely patients report an allergic reaction. If you experience any severe reaction, such as rash or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Loose, white colored stools may also be a sign of liver disease, so if you experience this symptom along with yellow skin (jaundice) head for the emergency room or your doctor's office immediately.
If the following symptoms appear, they're probably due to the detoxification effects of the milk thistle on the liver - in other words, these symptoms are unlikely to be caused by milk thistle, but may be simply your body cleansing itself of toxins and pollutants:
- Joint aches
The best way to enhance detoxification is to drink plenty of water. Water naturally helps the body flush toxins out of the system. Avoid taking aspirin or other headache remedies during detoxification. Detoxification helps the liver remove the effects of previous courses of over the counter pain relievers. Taking them during detoxification just puts the chemicals back into your body.
Other Detoxification Methods
In addition to taking milk thistle, detoxification methods may include:
- Saunas or steam baths
- Dry skin brushing
- Periodic fasting or juice fasts (under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner)
- Colonics or enemas
For more information on detoxification, make an appointment with a naturopathic physician or a holistic health practitioner. These people are experienced at helping others detoxify and at identifying potential problems.
Always seek the advice of a medical professional before attempting any herbal or alternative therapy.