Q: What is milk thistle?
A: Milk thistle — also known as St. Mary’s thistle, Our Lady’s thistle and Marian thistle — is a spectacular plant with blossoming purplish-pink flowers and shiny green leaves that feature white veins. It’s part of the Asteraceae family of plants, alongside sunflowers, echinacea, dandelion, safflower and lettuce. Originally native to Southern Europe, milk thistle use has been documented as far back as around 50 AD by the Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder. Word of its effectiveness has spread tenfold since then, and it’s now being used all around the world. Milk thistle extract, the commonly used supplement, is made from the seeds of milk thistle and isolates as much silymarin (the active ingredient) as possible.
Q: What are the benefits of taking milk thistle?
A: Milk thistle is most often used for its ability to promote healthy liver function. The liver is responsible for producing bile, detoxifying the blood, converting sugar into usable glucose, breaking down hemoglobin as well as insulin and various hormones and storing vitamins, iron and simple sugar. It is also the biggest and one of the most vital organs in our body. In addition to its effects on liver function, milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect healthy cells from free radical damage.* With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that milk thistle has become one of the most commonly used herbal extracts.
Q: How do I take milk thistle?
A: Milk thistle extract is most commonly taken in its capsule form, but it’s available in a variety of other forms, as well. The most potent dose per serving is found in milk thistle liquid extract. To all of you tea drinkers out there, milk thistle tea is an excellent option and has a pleasantly delicate flavor. While it’s rarely thought of as a food, milk thistle seeds are very edible, have an excellent flavor and offer a variety of uses! Grind the seeds into a fine powder in a blender and easily incorporate them into baked goods, smoothies and dips. Use this simple smoothie recipe as a guide to adding ground milk thistle seeds to foods you already eat.
Banana & Oats Balancing Blend
Directions: Pour all ingredients in a blender (make sure milk thistle seeds are ground prior to adding other ingredients), mix and enjoy!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.