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.
. 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
A study on mice found milk thistle extract helped to reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a problem for people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Improves allergic asthma symptoms
The active ingredient in milk thistle can help to reduce inflammation. A 2012 study found that silymarin helped to protect against inflammation in the airways of mice with allergic asthma.
7. Limits the spread of cancer
Milk thistle may help to stop the spread of certain types of cancer. A 2016 review found that milk thistle extract inhibited the growth of cancerous cells in colorectal 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.