Silybum marianum is an herb that’s best known for its ability to treat liver and biliary disorders. Healers have used it for this purpose for more than 2000 years.
Now, new research shows it is useful for much more than this.
It has tremendous value in many other conditions including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. In fact, research and clinical experience suggest it can treat more than three dozen conditions.
Although it has a variety of names, it’s most widely known as milk thistle. Here’s the scoop.
Milk Thistle’s Most Active Ingredient
Milk thistle is so called because of the milky white fluid that seeps from the plant’s leaves when they are crushed.
The leaves, stem and roots have historically been used in food, but the plant’s seeds are most commonly used in medicine. These contain a compound – a valuable one, as we now know — called silymarin.
Silymarin is not simple stuff. It’s made up of seven plant chemicals (flavonolignans), the most abundant of which is silybinin. This molecule makes up 70% of the total composition of silymarin and is considered to be the most biologically active and medically useful constituent within it.
Powerful Protection For The Liver
The liver has the remarkable ability to regenerate itself. It can grow back to full size even when as much as three-quarters of it is cut away. Silymarin is believed to fast-track this process by triggering proteins to build new cells.
The herb also acts as an antioxidant to protect against the damage caused by free radicals and blocks toxins from entering the cells.
Studies show milk thistle protects against cirrhosis (scarring), improves liver function and reduces deaths. It also benefits chronic hepatitis patients and helps heal liver disease caused by viruses and alcohol.
Lowers Blood Sugar in People With Diabetes
In experimental and clinical studies, antioxidants help control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.
So researchers sought to find out if the powerful antioxidant properties of milk thistle would help relieve type 2 diabetes. To test the idea, they carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial — the most rigorous type of research possible.
They found that after four months, the 25 patients taking daily silymarin supplements had significant decreases in their blood sugar levels and fasting blood sugar. In the 26 patients taking a placebo, there was a marked increase in these levels. Their condition got worse.
Dr. Fallah Huseini, who led the study, said that “silymarin could play an important role in treating type 2 diabetes.”
Reduces The Pain and Inflammation of Arthritis
Back in 2000, a study on arthritic animals found that silymarin possessed significant anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity, but some years went by before this effect was assessed in humans.
Earlier this year, researchers tested silymarin supplements on 44 patients with stable rheumatoid arthritis. The measure used to evaluate effectiveness was DAS28. This examines pain, tenderness and swelling in 28 joints, gages inflammatory markers, and asks patients to assess the treatment.
After three months there was a significant reduction in DAS28 scores and related symptoms. The researchers believe the explanation for these benefits most likely lies in silymarin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
People with osteoarthritis also see major improvements.
In a randomized, double-blind trial, the anti-inflammatory activity of silymarin was compared with two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in 220 patients with very painful knee arthritis.
The results were dramatic. After two months, those taking silymarin experienced considerable pain relief whereas those taking NSAIDS saw little improvement.
Green Valley’s Triple Joint Relief formula contains a clinical dose of the most potent form of silymarin we could find. It’s combined with two other anti-inflammatory ingredients. One of them, boswellia, was found to be especially potent in combination with silymarin.