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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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