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Information @ a Glance

  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a unique liver protectant. It is one of the few herbs that has no equal in the world of conventional medicine. 
  • Milk thistle is sometimes called silymarin, which is actually a mixture of  the herb's active components, including silybinin (also called silibinin or silybin).
  • Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean, but is now widespread throughout the world. This stout thistle usually grows in dry, sunny areas. The stem branches at the top, and reaches a height of 4 to 10 feet. The leaves are wide, with white blotches or veins. The flowers are red-purple. The small, hard-skinned fruit is brown, spotted, and shiny. Milk thistle is easy to grow, and it matures quickly, in less than a year. 
  • Milk thistle has long been used in Europe as a food. De-spined leaves were used in salads, while stalks, roots and flowers were cooked. Seeds were used as coffee substitute. It has been used as a medicine for over 2,000 years as milk stimulant, for liver, kidney and spleen problems, for jaundice, gall stones, and menstrual pain.
  • In 1997, milk thistle ranked 12th among the top selling herb supplements in the U.S. mass market, with sales of over US$3 million. Prices in 1997 ranged from US$2.50 to $5.00/lb.
  • Milk thistle is not bothered by many pests, and no diseases have been noted. Milk thistle is very drought resistant and should not require irrigation unless severe conditions arise.
  • Milk thistle is native to western and central Europe and northern India, but has become naturalized by escaping from cultivation in southern Europe, Africa, India, China, Australia, South America, and in many parts 
    of North America. Much of the current commercial seed production for the 
    European market comes from Argentina, while cultivation in Texas supplies some of the U.S. market.
  • Milk thistle is very drought tolerant and prefers dry well drained soil in full sun. It is found along roadsides, in fields and waste places. Milk thistle seeds  historically has been used for mild digestive complaints, especially those centered on liver function.
  • Depending on the intended use of a milk thistle product, one consumer may choose to use a well manufactured, but not standardized, tincture as a digestive aid, whereas anyone with a diagnosed liver disease would prefer a standardized product concentrated to 80% silymarin.
  • The seed is used as supportive treatment in Germany for many forms of chronic inflammatory liver disorders that vary from hepatitis to severe Amanita mushroom poisoning. Milk thistle products vary in their claimed “standardized” marker content from 30 to 80 percent silymarin or silybin.
  • One of the special qualities of Milk Thistle is that it cleanses and detoxifies an overburdened and stagnant liver while also being able to strengthen and tonify a weak liver.

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