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If You Think Milk Thistle Is Just A Plant, You Don’t Know What You Are Missing Out!

If You Think Milk Thistle Is Just A Plant, You Don’t Know What You Are Missing Out!

It is most often seen in a form of a supplement or extract that you can take orally or in tea form, but milk thistle is actually a flowering herb that has been used for over 2000 years as a natural remedy for liver conditions. The health benefits of milk thistle were discovered in the ancient times and it was first used as a treatment for liver disorders by Europeans. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and it can enable you to detoxify your body in a natural way.

Milk thistle can grow in parts of the world where the climate is warm, and it can be found in southern Europe, southern Russia, Asia Minor, North Africa, and in North and South America as well. Milk thistle is a herb that belongs to the daisy family and it has red to purple flowers and green leaves. When its leaves are crushed, a white milky fluid comes out, and that is how this plant got its name. Although it is a plant, we don’t consume it in such form, but it is rather turned into supplements.

What are the health benefits of milk thistle?

There are many health benefits of this supplement, and one of its widely know beneficial effects is related to treatment of various liver diseases. According to a research conducted by Department of Biochemistry at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences[1], silymarin, a derivate of milk thistle, has a positive effect on reducing ethanol-induced oxidative stress in liver that can cause cell damage.

Milk thistle can also help in lowering high cholesterol, protecting against cancer, controlling diabetes, helping with intestinal issue and it is also very beneficial for the skin.

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1. Milk thistle protects your liver

Milk thistle provides many health benefits for your liver and there are various studies confirming its healing effects. According to a study by VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System[2], milk thistle can promote liver health in liver transplant patients.

Another study by University Magna Graecia in Italy[3] highlights that it can also be used to treat alcoholic liver disease as well as various toxin-induced diseases.

2. Milk thistle protects your heart too

By lowering high cholesterol and raising the levels of beneficial cholesterol, milk thistle can decrease the risk of atherosclerosis, a disease that causes your arteries to be blocked. In addition to that, a research conducted by China-Japan Research Institute of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences[4] discovered that the silibinin, found in milk thistle, has a protective effect against injuries to cardiac muscle cells.

3. Milk thistle helps in controlling blood sugar levels

Milk thistle is a herb rich in anti-oxidants, and thanks to their existence, this herb can help regulate blood sugar levels. A 4-month study[5] on 51 type II diabetic patients confirmed that these anti-oxidant properties had a beneficial effect on the glycemic profile of the patients.

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Another study conducted at Anti-Diabetes Centre in Italy[6] on patients with cirrhosis and type II diabetes who developed insulin resistance showed a significant improvement in insulin resistance due to 12-month therapy with milk thistle.

4. Milk thistle helps to prevent and treat cancer

There is evidence[7] that milk thistle can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in prostate, skin, breast and cervical cells. Furthermore, the combination of milk thistle and selenium has been proven to reduce markers that are associated with prostate cancer progression, as reported by the Department of Urology at University Hospital in the Czech Republic[8].

5. Milk thistle protects your brain

It has been found that milk thistle has neuroprotective properties and the evidence suggest that such properties may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, as study conducted in Tokyo suggests[9].

6. Milk has anti-aging effects

This herb can also help in reducing aging effects visible on your skin. As this study[10] suggest, by taking milk thistle, you can reduce skin damage, dark spots, wrinkles, lines and discoloration.

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7. Milk thistle improves bone health

Milk thistle has beneficial effects on bone formation, and evidence suggests[11] it may help both build bone and prevent bone loss. It is also effective in preventing osteoporosis[12] due to estrogen deficiency, which would be of great benefit to postmenopausal women.

Are there any side effects when taking milk thistle?

There are no serious side effects that you should worry about. According to University of Maryland Medical Center[13], side effects are usually mild, and can include: stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea and vomiting.

Yet, if combined with certain medications or other herbs, it can trigger some side effects, so you should always consult your doctor before taking it. During pregnancy and breast-feeding, it’s better to avoid consuming it and also if you are allergic to ragweed and related plants.

How should I consume milk thistle?

You can take milk thistle in the form of supplements, usually in form of tablets or capsules, or you can drink it in the form of tea. When buying supplements, you should always choose standardized and reliable products as they will give you more reliable dose of the product. When taking capsules or tablets drink them with a full glass of water and take them as indicated on the package, but the safest way is to always consult a healthcare professional.

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Some of the recommended supplement brands are Ultra Thistle, which can protect your liver, and protect you from inflammation and scarring; Clinical Liver Support, beneficial for those who want to protect themselves against possible future liver issues; Milk Thistle with Artichoke and Turmeric, for removing toxins from your system.

As milk thistle is available in tea form, if it suits your preferences, you can consume it in the form of a hot drink. You can make your own milk thistle tea, or buy from trusted brands, such as Alvita, Traditional Medicinals and Celebration Herbals.

How much should I take?

There is no standardized dosage yet, but the range for recommended dosage is between 280 to 800 milligrams of silymarin, which constitutes 70-80% milk thistle extract. Most often, recommendations suggest taking 100-200 milligrams per day with your meals.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/ via pixabay.com

Reference

[1]NCBI: Protective effects of silymarin, a milk thistle (Silybium marianum) derivative on ethanol-induced oxidative stress in liver.
[2]NCBI: Alternative therapy use in liver transplant recipients.
[3]NCBI: Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future.
[4]NCBI: Protective effect of silibinin against isoproterenol-induced injury to cardiac myocytes and its mechanism
[5]NCBI: The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial.
[6]NCBI: Long-term (12 months) treatment with an anti-oxidant drug (silymarin) is effective on hyperinsulinemia, exogenous insulin need and malondialdehyde levels in cirrhotic diabetic patients.
[7]NCBI: Advances in the use of milk thistle (Silybum marianum).
[8]NCBI: The safety and efficacy of a silymarin and selenium combination in men after radical prostatectomy – a six month placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial.
[9]NCBI: Silymarin attenuated the amyloid β plaque burden and improved behavioral abnormalities in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.)), as well as multiple sclerosis and age-related diseases((NCBI: Silymarin extends lifespan and reduces proteotoxicity in C. elegans Alzheimer’s model.
[10]NCBI: Silymarin, a Flavonoid from Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum L.), Inhibits UV-induced Oxidative Stress Through Targeting Infiltrating CD11b+ Cells in Mouse Skin
[11]NCBI: Milk thistle: a future potential anti-osteoporotic and fracture healing agent.
[12]NCBI: Antiosteoclastic activity of milk thistle extract after ovariectomy to suppress estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis.
[13]University of Maryland Medical Center: Milk thistle

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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