Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is native to Europe. The applicable parts of milk thistle are the seed and above ground parts. The active constituent is Silymarin, which consists of four flavonolignans: silibinin (silybin), isosilybinin, silichristin (silychristin), and silidianins. Silymarin is protective of the liver. It prevents toxins from penetrating the interior of liver cells, while promoting the growth of healthy new cells to repair liver damage.
Milk thistle is primarily used for the loss of appetite as well as liver and gallbladder problems. In the past, it has been taken as a stimulant and tonic.
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Cautions Orally, milk thistle is well tolerated. It can cause an occaisonal laxative effects. Other less common gastronintestinal effects include nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal bloating, and fullness.