Milk Thistle Benefits & Side Effects
Those curious about Milk Thistle Tea benefits will be pleased to know that it is more than a pesky weed. While despised by gardeners, it has become increasingly popular among health-conscious individuals. The reason, according to modern science, is its ability to detoxify the liver, treat gallstones, aid digestion, and even promote weight loss - to name only a few traits. But is there proof to support such claims?
This is what we’ll be exploring in the following article, so please keep reading to find out the facts and figures. Once you’ve learned about it, you can try it for yourself here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. Since our establishment about forty years ago, we’ve prided ourselves on packing our products fresh to order. Doing so ensures not only quality but also consistency.
Table of Contents
- Milk Thistle Properties and Nutritional
- Benefits of Milk Thistle Tea
- 1. Liver Detox Tea with Milk Thistle
- 2. Can Milk Thistle Help Cirrhosis of the Liver?
- 3. Milk Thistle Tea Benefits for Hair Health
- 4. Milk Thistle Tea Benefits for Skin Health
- 5. Milk Thistle Tea for Stomach Upset
- 6. Milk Thistle Tea for Glutathione Levels
- 7. Milk Thistle Tea for Heart Health
- 8. Milk Thistle Tea for Psoriasis
- 9. Milk Thistle Tea for Weight Loss
- 10. Milk Thistle for Gallstones
- 11. Milk Thistle and Diabetes
- 12. Milk Thistle Tea and Breast Cancer
- Milk Thistle Tea Side Effects
- Milk Thistle Tea Pregnancy Considerations
Milk Thistle Properties and Nutritional
We’ll start by delving deep into the well-documented medicinal properties of Milk Thistle Tea - specifically, its wealth in vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants. Most notable is its abundance in silymarin (between 65-80% per standard extract) and silibinin, both of which improve life in countless ways. These chemical compounds famously neutralise free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are unpaired - and unsafe - electrons introduced through the natural yet harmful process of oxidation. When left unchecked, free radicals can wreak havoc on your system, increasing the risk of developing several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer. Milk Thistle Tea and its nutrients counter the risks. And that’s just the beginning of its potential.
Benefits of Milk Thistle Tea
The health properties of Milk Thistle date back millennia. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) wrote that its juices were adept at the “carrying of bile”. Around the same era, the Greek physician Dioscorides (c. 40 - c. 90 CE) believed that it acted as a remedy for colic and snake bites. This is similar to Anglo-Saxon culture, which recorded that “if hung upon a man’s neck it setteth snakes to flight”.
Hundreds of years later, Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) considered the health benefits of Milk Thistle Tea suitable for fighting fevers. He even went as far as to state that it prevents and cures the plague, as well as helps people suffering from jaundice and dropsy (oedema). Times have since changed, of course, but the Herbal Tea remains as excellent as ever at combating modern-day ailments.
1. Liver Detox Tea with Milk Thistle
The most renowned benefit of them all is Milk Thistle Tea for liver function. It works primarily as a so-called Detox Tea, a term that refers to removing toxins from the body. Despite little in the way of concrete evidence, the belief is that it strengthens the outer membranes of the liver cells while reducing the number of toxins entering these cells. The few studies that have been conducted seem promising.
One animal-based trial concluded that “silymarin [in Milk Thistle] effectively protected [the] liver”. Another trial from 2010 found that silymarin “... may act as a toxin blockade agent by inhibiting the binding of toxins to the hepatocyte cell membrane receptors”. It continued: “Silymarin reduces liver injury caused by acetaminophen… radiation, iron overload… [and] alcohol”.
2. Can Milk Thistle Help Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Cirrhosis of the liver is scarring caused by long-term damage to the organ, often the product of excessive alcohol consumption or other lifestyle factors. Symptoms include feeling unwell and tired, yellow skin and eyes, itchiness and a swollen stomach. The best treatment is to target the apparent causes, whether drinking less, maintaining a healthy weight, practising safe sex or avoiding illegal drugs.
Milk Thistle for fatty liver disease and cirrhosis could likewise serve as an accompaniment. According to a review of six studies, four of the trials reported a significant improvement in the condition after volunteers took an extract of the plant. Nevertheless, it ultimately stated that the “Clinical efficacy of milk thistle [was] not clearly established”. We await further research before endorsing the claim.
3. Milk Thistle Tea Benefits for Hair Health
On average, people lose anywhere between fifty and 100 hairs each day, a normal occurrence for most. However, upon reaching 50-years-old, about 85% of men and 50% of women experience balding. Medication, scalp treatments, laser hair therapy and other procedures might offset signs of Alopecia (the medical term for hair loss). Alternatively, you could venture down the herbal remedy route.
We’re not talking about the benefits of drinking Milk Thistle Tea but its topical application. Preliminary research (emphasis on “preliminary”, meaning it is in its early stages) shows that Milk Thistle extract promotes hair health by preventing hair loss and strengthening hair follicles. This could be because of silymarin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that improve cell regeneration.
4. Milk Thistle Tea Benefits for Skin Health
Since we’re already on the topic of topical application, we’ll move on to the benefits of Milk Thistle Tea for acne. Caused by hair follicles that get clogged with oil and dead skin cells, acne is easily recognisable by the presence of whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. It is typically associated with teenagers going through puberty, although it can affect people of all ages. How can your new favourite infusion help?
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research has the answers. It demonstrated that volunteers who took 210-mg of silymarin daily for eight weeks experienced a 53% decrease in acne blemishes. The likely explanation is its anti-inflammatory properties that treat lesions at the source, thereby reducing their appearance and boosting your confidence.
5. Milk Thistle Tea for Stomach Upset
Stomach upset (indigestion) is the name applied to symptoms such as bloating and heartburn. The former is where the gastrointestinal tract fills with air or gas, prompting the abdomen to feel full or tight. It tends to be like you’ve eaten a large meal - perhaps because you have! - with no room left in your stomach. Often physically uncomfortable or even painful, it can also be a source of embarrassment.
Meanwhile, heartburn (acid reflux) is a burning pain in the lower chest area that comes about from stomach acid flowing back up into the food pipe (oesophagus). Those who have it more than twice a week could instead have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Milk Thistle for bloating and indigestion might alleviate symptoms due once again to its anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Milk Thistle Tea for Glutathione Levels
You’re almost certainly aware by now that Milk Thistle Tea has huge antioxidant potential. But your body is equally capable of producing its own. This includes glutathione, one of the most vital antioxidants around. Glutathione consists of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamine. Yet these chemical compounds can get depleted if you have a poor diet, chronic disease, infection or frequent stress.
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Phytomedicine, the Herbal Tea’s silymarin content can increase glutathione levels. Furthermore, according to another 2010 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, it might prevent the three amino acids’ depletion in the first place. Scientists believe that silymarin did so by functioning on a molecular level to combat cell damage.
7. Milk Thistle Tea for Heart Health
Next on the list of Milk Thistle Tea’s traditional medicinals is its capacity to improve heart health. Its primary role, according to preliminary evidence, is lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. This kind of cholesterol - different to “good” HDL cholesterol - can become a problem if you rarely exercise, have poor weight management or smoke and drink too much. Enter Milk Thistle Tea benefits.
One 2006 study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research has the proof. It showed that those drinking the infusion had lower cholesterol levels than the volunteers who received a placebo. Additionally, anecdotal reports suggest that it might lower blood pressure. The trouble here is that no known trials have been conducted to back the claim; therefore, it remains unfounded.
8. Milk Thistle Tea for Psoriasis
A quick recap: Our article has showcased correlations between Milk Thistle consumption and improved liver, skin and heart health. It has also explained how it eases indigestion and enhances glutathione levels. We return now to Milk Thistle skin benefits to examine a little closer its capability to decrease psoriasis symptoms. This condition is best characterised by raised, red and scaly patches of skin.
Despite its unknown causes, psoriasis is somehow related to the immune system and affects an estimated 125 million people worldwide. Sadly, there is no cure as of 2022, but there are treatments that slow the growth of skin cells to relieve pain, itching and discomfort. Milk Thistle Tea is one such treatment. The key contributing component is silymarin. However, other more medically proven choices are available.
9. Milk Thistle Tea for Weight Loss
Can Milk Thistle help you lose weight? You can count on it! For starters, it is a low-calorie option compared to sugary and fatty soft drinks. Then there is evidence from a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food that appears encouraging. It discovered that participants lost weight and decreased their body mass index (BMI) during a 120-day clinical trial while using the Herbal Tea.
Why did it happen? It’s all to do with metabolism, referring to the process of your body converting the fuel in your food into energy. By boosting the metabolism of fat cells, which Milk Thistle Tea benefits achieve, your body is able to burn fat quicker and more efficiently. Just don’t expect it to do all of the heavy lifting on your behalf - you’ll need to exercise and eat well in order to see noticeable results.
10. Milk Thistle for Gallstones
Connected to your liver is a kidney-bean-shaped organ known as the gallbladder. It serves as a storage facility for the pint or more of bile produced by the liver each day. Bile, in turn, is dissolved cholesterol. Too much of it can lead to small, hard stones developing within the gallbladder called gallstones. If a gallstone ends up blocking a bile duct, it can bring about severe abdominal pain (biliary colic).
A study conducted at the New York University Langone Medical Center points to Milk Thistle Tea benefits protecting against gallstone formation. Silymarin was established to reduce cholesterol output in the bile, as well as expand the bile acid pool and stimulate more gallbladder contraction. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company nevertheless urges you to seek medical consultation for gallstones.
11. Milk Thistle and Diabetes
An estimated four million people live with diabetes in Britain alone, amounting to 6% of the county’s population - or about one in sixteen individuals. It impacts the efficiency of the pancreas to produce insulin, which then leads to an excessive quantity of blood sugar (glucose) staying in your system. Symptoms of too much glucose include fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and stomach pain.
According to a 2020 study, Milk Thistle has hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties. Another 2014 study published in the Journal of the Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research found that silibinin acts as an inhibitor of aldose reductase. In other words, it helps metabolise glucose in the body to effectively balance blood sugar levels. What could be more impressive than that?
12. Milk Thistle Tea and Breast Cancer
Before we get into the correlations between Milk Thistle Tea and chemotherapy, especially for breast cancer, it is paramount to manage expectations. The Tea should not under any circumstances be considered an alternative to medical treatment, nor should it be taken without the advice of doctors or other medical professionals. We’re not scientists, after all, and we do not pretend to be.
What we do know is that according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the reported antioxidant effect of silymarin may have small anticancer effects. Other studies into liver cancer and Milk Thistle Tea have found it to be a suitable addition to chemotherapy. However, very few clinical trials have shown the beverage to have a truly meaningful influence.
Milk Thistle Tea Side Effects
That’s our comprehensive list of Milk Thistle benefits covered. The unfortunate truth is that we likewise have to address Milk Thistle’s side effects. People in the past have reported instances of experiencing abdominal pain or bloating, indigestion, diarrhoea, gas, nausea and other digestive complaints after drinking it. There is also a mild risk of a loss of appetite with frequent consumption.
Furthermore, those who’re sensitive or allergic to plants in the Asteraceae (daisy) family should avoid the Herbal Tea altogether. If you have any of the above symptoms or suffer from discomfort of any sort, we’d recommend that you speak to a doctor or medically-trained expert immediately. First and foremost, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company cares about the welfare of our customers.
Milk Thistle Tea Pregnancy Considerations
Having a cup of Herbal Tea while pregnant is a somewhat controversial choice - to say the least. While some varieties - most famously Raspberry Leaf Tea - have their perks in the third trimester, others can cause complications. What about the infusion you’ve chosen here? The consensus is that it is safe in moderation. Still, the best time to drink Milk Thistle Tea is probably before or after giving birth.
The question of Milk Thistle Tea for breastfeeding remains. Interestingly, the latter part of the plant’s scientific name (Silybum marianum) refers to the legend that its white “spots” (veins) come from the milk of the Virgin Mary. Today, early evidence indicates that it might act as a galactagogue (something that increases breast milk supply) by boosting the milk-producing hormone called prolactin.
Whether you decide on Milk Thistle for Detox Tea, cardiovascular issues, weight loss or more, you needn’t look further than The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. Our family-run business stocks two types, one made from the plant’s leaves and the other Milk Thistle Seeds Tea.
Whichever one you end up brewing, you’re undoubtedly in for a delicious and health-beneficial treat.