Milk Thistle, silymarin, acts largely on the liver and kidneys.
It is a well known protection against hepatotoxins. It has a long history of successful use in treating:
It has been used for Amanita mushroom poisoning.
1 gram orally per 100 weight daily for carnivores is recommended. It tastes grainy and can be sprinkled on or mixed with food.
It is regarded as nontoxic (GRAS) with only occasional GI distress and allergic reaction.
There are three botanical medicines that unquestionably are wonder drugs they are:
Two other botanicals warrant wonder drug status but have not been, as yet, recognized by a large segment of medical professionals as such they are:
Milk thistle is the subject botanical of wonder drug status, it enjoys a rich history dating back millennia. The Roman Pliny the Elder wrote of milk thistle’s virtues. Culpepper – England’s infamous herbalist set forth milk thistle’s utility for liver and spleen health as well as its efficacy for jaundice.
Three flavonolignans, silybin (silibinin), silychristin and silidianin make up what is known collectively as silymarin. Silybin is the most active, of these three chemicals, as to hepatoprotection and antioxidant effects. Several other lignans are also present. About 20% oil made up of oleic, lipoic and other acids.
The drug silymarin is a mistake when it is standardized for oral administration. It is poorly soluble in water and poorly available from the gastrointestinal tract. Because silymarin is poorly soluble in water standardized 80% silymarin is an expensive ineffective medicine that could best be given parenterally if at all.
The ground whole seed is the best medicine. The seed of the plant contains up to 8% silymarin. The many chemicals in the seed prove to be the best delivery vehicle for silymarin. Many many veterinarians have advised that the ground seed is more effective at 8% silymarin than is the isolated silymarin standardized at 80%.
Milk thistle’s most important therapeutic efficacies are:
The mechanism of milk thistle’s favorable influence on the liver is not well understood. There have been numerous research papers published that continue poor understanding. What is clear is that silymarin, and related plant chemicals, do demonstrate amazing influence on the liver, and its function.
Silymarin (silybin) potentiates DNA and RNA production. This results in cell growth and liver repair through protein synthesis.
Silymarin is a prooxidant free radical scavenger and it does encourage concentration of glutathione in cells - a big plus 35% over normal. Milk thistle is many times more potent than Vitamin E! Glutathione (GSH) is required in detoxification. Just how these desirable outcomes are accomplished is a matter of conjecture in the literature. Silibin also inhibits peroxidizing enzymes blocking peroxidases of fatty acids and membrane damage.
The seed of the milk thistle is hard, a bit shiny and preserves the contents indefinitely. A large, but unknown to me, quantity will, and does, pass through the G.I. tract and be wasted if it is ingested whole.
The ground encapsulated seed is adequately preserved. Data is lacking that would tell how long the shelf life may be. However encapsulated product lasts long enough that veterinary users have only reported success – no failures. The consensus is that milk thistle seed:
It is a preventative treatment for glaucoma and cloudy eyes as in aging dogs (i.e. lenticular sclerosis). It is a very effective cure for jaundice.
It is a positive treatment for: hepatitis, gallstones, psoriasis and cirrhosis.
Milk thistle clearly has a lot of fans and uses.
We did not invent botanical medicines and we do not recommend that the use of botanical medicines should be undertaken on the strength of our restatement of historical usage and documented research.
We do restate well documented traditional efficacy and the results of ongoing research. Personal experience is included where deemed appropriate.
Regardless of the merits of any plant medicine, side effects do sometimes occur. These may be real or imagined. Always seek the counsel and advice of qualified medical professionals and use caution with any medication, plant derived or otherwise. We do not accept responsibility for the use or misuse of any product put forth or any information provided.
This research is being conducted by the Veterinary Research Council, Inc., of which, Dr. Fox is Treasurer.