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What is milk thistle?
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that comes from the same family of plants as the daisy. It grows in Mediterranean countries and is used to make natural remedies.
Different parts of the milk thistle plant may be used to treat various health conditions. The most common use of milk thistle is for liver problems.
Ten health benefits of milk thistle
1. Supports liver health
One of the most common uses of milk thistle is to treat liver problems. A 2016 study found that milk thistle improved diet-induced liver damage in mice. More evidence is needed to prove that milk thistle benefits human livers in the same way.
2. Promotes skin health
Milk thistle may help to promote healthy skin. A 2015 study found that milk thistle helped improve inflammatory skin conditions when applied to the skin of mice.
Milk thistle was also found to have antioxidant and anti-aging effects on human skin cells in a laboratory environment in another study.
3. Reduces cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to problems with heart health and increase a person's chance of stroke.
A 2006 study suggests milk thistle may play an important role keeping cholesterol levels down. It found that cholesterol levels were lower in people taking milk thistle to treat diabetes than those taking a placebo.
4. Supports weight loss
Initial animal research conducted in 2016 found that silymarin caused weight loss in mice that were fed a diet intended to cause weight gain.
This suggests milk thistle may be beneficial for those looking to lose weight. More research into the effects of milk thistle on weight loss in humans is needed to confirm this, however.
5. Reduces insulin resistance
6. Improves allergic asthma symptoms
7. Limits the spread of cancer
8. Supports bone health
Milk thistle tea may help to prevent bone loss caused by a lack of estrogen.
Milk thistle may play an essential role in supporting bone health. A 2013 study found that milk thistle helped to prevent bone loss.
9. Improves cognition
In this way, milk thistle may help improve cognition and treat degenerative conditions that affect the mind. More research on humans is needed to confirm the effects of milk thistle on cognition.
10. Boosts the immune system
Milk thistle may help strengthen a person's immune response and help them fight off infection.
How to use milk thistle
Milk thistle is also available as a tea. If drinking milk thistle tea, it is best to limit intake to 6 cups a day.
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