Introduction of Milk Thistle:Marian thistle or Mary thistle.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Milk Thistle, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Silybum marianum L.Gaertn., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Milk Thistle, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Milk Thistle(Marian thistle).

Milk Thistle English Name: Milk Thistle.
 Latin Name: Silybum marianum L.Gaertn.
 Common Names: Marian thistle, Mary thistle, Mediterranean Milk Thistle, Out Lady's thistle, St.Mary's, Silybum.
 Property and flavor: cold in nature, tastes bitter.

 Brief introduction: Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean region, but now grows in many parts of Europe and the Americas, including California and the eastern seaboard of USA (the United States of America). Milk thistle has been cultivated as a vegetable and ornamental. The tall, weedlike plants have large prickly leaves and the stems contain a milky sap that oozes out when cracked open. Small fruits nestle in the feathery reddish-purple flowers and are used to make the medicinal extract known as silymarin. Most commercial preparations are standardized to contain at least 70 percent of this substance. Other parts of the plant have occasionally been used for medicinal purposes as well.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Milk Thistle as the seed of the species (1).Silybum marianum L.Gaertn. It is a plant species of the Silybum Adans genus, the Asteraceae family (composite, daisy family). The mature seeds are used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:

(1).Silybum marianum L.Gaertn.

 Silybum marianum:flowering plant Botanical description: Silybum marianum is an annual or biennial herb, it grows up to 30~120 cm high. Stems are upright, multi-branched, and have a long edge. The basal leaves are large, rosette-shaped, petiolate, the leaves are long and elliptic-lanceolate, 15~40 cm long and 6~14 cm wide, pinnately parted, the marginal teeth have sharp spines, the surface of the leaves is glossy, there are many milky white markings, the back surface is covered with short hair, the veins are covered with coarse hairs, and the midrib protrudes significantly from the back of the leaves; Cauline leaves are small, and the base holds the stem.

 Silybum marianum:drawing Capitulum, 4~6 cm in diameter, terminal or axillary, drooping; Total bract is wide, subglobose; Involucral bracts are multilayer, hard, spiny, or apex of the outer layer is pointed; Stipules are fleshy, with hard stipules; Flowers are all tubular, bisexual, lavender or mauve, reddish with white.

 Achene is oval, about 7 mm long, about 3 mm wide, brown or dark brown, with longitudinal stripes on the surface and protruding glands; The hair is white and setose. The flowering and fruiting period is from May to October.

 Ecological environment: Silybum marianum grows in ventilated, cool, dry and sunny wasteland, saline-alkali land, etc. It is native to Southern Europe to North Africa.

 Silybum marianum:flowering plants Growth characteristics: Silybum marianum likes a warm and sunny environment, and it is tolerant of cold, drought, and high temperature. It can grow normally at 39 °C (Celsius, or 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer and autumn. The seeds have strong germination ability and can be grown on the ground. The suitable temperature for germination is 18~25 °C (Celsius, or 64.4~77 degrees Fahrenheit), and the germination rate is over 95%. The seedlings also have strong cold tolerance, and will not die when exposed to a low temperature of about 0 °C (Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit). The requirements for soil are not strict. Sandy loam with loose soil, fertile soil, and good drainage is better. It is not suitable for planting in places with heavy soil, low-lying water, and heavy saline-alkali.

 Silybum marianum:flowering plant with butterfly and honey bee Pharmacological actions: ①.hepatoprotective effects; ②.antioxidant; ③.reverse damage and cure the liver, liver regenerative effect; ④.relieve liver cirrhosis; ⑤.relieve mild digestive disorders; ⑥.anti-inflammatory effect; ⑦.antidote for amanita mushroom poisoning; etc.

 Silymarin is a flavonoid compound of milk thistle, it protects the liver. This protective action for several live toxins, including carbon tetrachloride, radiation, and certain foods such as the highly poisonous amanita mushroom.

 Silymarin also helps cleanse the liver of dangerous toxins by scavenging for substances called free radicals that can damage the liver, it also reduces iron-2+ induced linoleate peroxidation.

 Silymarin reverses damage and helps cure the liver by encouraging the regeneration of liver cells, it activates the liver's ability to regenerate itself through increased formation of new liver cells called hepatocytes, resulting in an increase of ribosomal protein synthesis and the regenerative ability of the liver.

 Silymarin 140 mg doses three times a day significantly reduced the death rate among individuals with alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis.

 Milk thistle helps control mild digestive disorders, silymarin may even relieve stomach ulcers.

 Silymarin exerts an anti-inflammatory effect via inhibition of leukotriene production.

 Silymarin administered up to 48 hours after mushroom ingestion appears to be effective in preventing severe liver damage in Amanita phalloides poisoning.

 Silybum marianum:seeds Medicinal efficacy: Europeans used milk thistle for more than two thousand years as a remedy for liver ailments, digestive system upset, excessive menstrual flow, and various other ills. Today milk thistle preparations are used as an all-around cure for the liver so critical to proper digestion, and waste processing, its extracts are taken to protect the liver from exposure to biological and chemical toxins. The herb's renowned for regenerating wounded liver cells and boosting the liver's overall function to treat chronic liver diseases, including inflammatory conditions such as hepatitis and alcohol-induced cirrhosis. In Europe, the herb is approved for dyspeptic complaints, liver and gallbladder complaints, the herb is used for dyspepsia, toxic liver damage, and hepatic cirrhosis, as a supportive treatment in chronic inflammatory liver disease. The herb is also used as an antidote to death-cap (Amanita) mushroom poisoning.

 Administration of Milk Thistle (Marian thistle): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Milk Thistle (Marian thistle)
Herbal classic books: Dosage: An extract standardized to 70 percent silymarin is typically used in various forms. The usual daily dose is 12 to 15 grams of fruit (whole or powdered) or about 200 to 420 mg of silymarin. A decoction is prepared using 1 heaping teaspoon (about 3 to 5 grams) of crushed fruit and is drunk three or four times per day thirty minutes before meals. To prepare an infusion, add 3 grams of the herb to cold water and bring to a boil, drain after 10 to 20 minutes. For liver dysfunction or ailments, the daily dosage has been effective and well tolerated at 140 to 420 mg divided into 2 to 3 doses. The average dose of silymarin was approximately 33 mg/kg/d for cyclopeptide mushroom poisoning. The herb should be stored away from direct light, heat, and moisture, and kept at room temperature.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions:According to extensive studies over the past few decades, milk thistle and silymarin are very safe in typically recommended amounts. The only risk is mild but transient diarrhea appears. Not even large doses seem to be toxic, possibly because excess amounts are simply flushed out of the body in the urine.

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