A milk thistle liver detox protocol is often used by people who want to assist their livers with detoxification and regeneration. Milk thistle has been used for over 2,000 years for liver, gall bladder, and digestive problems. It's one of the best studied herbs in the herbal medicine pharmacopeia, and the active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, has been studied for its effects upon liver regeneration.
Milk Thistle Liver Detox Facts
Your liver is a large, football shaped organ that sits near the stomach in your right abdominal area near the ribcage. It's an amazing organ, and without a healthy liver, you will soon get very sick and die. The entire blood supply filters through the liver ceaselessly. The liver has an enormous task load, with some scientists estimating dozens of tasks. Among its functions, the liver:
- Makes cholesterol, triglycerides, and urea
- Makes and secretes bile, which is necessary to digest fat
- Produces hundreds of enzymes that your body needs for daily living, metabolism and more
- Stores vitamins A, D and B12
- Stores copper and iron, drawing upon reserves when necessary and sending the right amount to the right spot in the body that needs it
- Makes substances that clot your blood
- Screens and neutralizes many harmful substances from the blood, including bacteria and the breakdown of toxic substances such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription and over the counter drugs, artificial sweeteners, chemical and food additives and dyes, hormones in milk and in the food supply, and much more
And that list is just for starters! A healthy liver keeps the entire body healthy. Damage to the liver results in many diseases and problems. Fortunately, the liver can regenerate its cells, so unless there's scarring (cirrhosis), the liver can heal itself over time.
Milk Thistle as a Detoxification Agent
Milk thistle seeds provide the active herbal ingredient, silymarin, which is used as a detoxification agent. Milk thistle offers many benefits and few dangers, but it's important to understand any herb you plan to take.
Before using milk thistle, it's important to know whether or not you have liver disease. Anyone diagnosed with liver or gallbladder problems should not use milk thistle unless under the advice and care of a qualified health professional. Also, if you are taking any prescription drugs, seek advice from a naturopathic doctor, herbalist or your own physician before taking milk thistle, as it may alter the way in which certain prescription medications act in the body.
Taking Milk Thistle
Milk thistle comes in pills and tinctures, and many herbalists recommend tinctures. A tincture is a liquid extract; most are standardized the manufacturer to provide the estimate dose. Tinctures are dropped into water and taken orally. Read the label directions on the tincture and do not exceed the recommended dose. A detoxification program using milk thistle usually lasts for a finite period of time as recommended by a naturopathic doctor or an herbalist. If you're using milk thistle to detoxify, you should also consider other detoxification methods such as a detoxifcation diet. Drink pure water and abstain from known toxins during your detoxification period; do not drink alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or anything artificially sweetened, colored or flavored. Saunas and steam baths are useful during detoxification as are drinks made with greens called green smoothies, and freshly juiced vegetables.
Milk Thistle Research
Milk thistle is perhaps one of the best researched herbs.
- A compendium of milk thistle research was created by Frank Painter, D.C.
- The Mayo Clinic provides a comprehensive overview of milk thistle and researched benefits of this herb.
- The University of Maryland Medical Center also provides an excellent overview of the benefits, risks and research of milk thistle.
Anyone with liver problems who is considering a milk thistle liver detox may wish to visit the website of Sandra Cabot, M.D. Dr. Cabot is affectionately known online as the "liver doc" because of her expertise as a liver specialist. She offers many resources online, as well as books on caring for and detoxifying your liver.