http://www.erowid.org/herbs/milk_thistle/milk_thistle.shtmlFAMILY : Compositae (Composite)
GENUS : Silybum
SPECIES : marianum
Marian Thistle, St. Mary's Thistle, Our Lady's Thistle
An annual or biennial herb growing up to 6 feet tall, milk thistle has coarse, lobed, prickly-edged leaves streaked with conspicuous white veins. Crimson to reddish-violet flowers (May-June) are borne in solitary heads, 2 inches across, surrounded by prominent, spiny bracts. [ "Magic and Medicine of Plants" ]
The seeds, fruit, and leaves of milk thistle (Silybum marianum), a plant native to Europe, have been used since the Roman times as a liver tonic. Also known as Marian, St. Mary's, and Our Lady's thistle, milk thistle extracts which contain 70 to 80 percent silymarin is now widely used for liver disorders. In numerous clinical studies, silymarin has been shown to have therapeutic effects in treating several types of liver ailments such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, and fatty infiltration of the liver.
Biopsies and laboratory studies have demonstrated that silymarin protects the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol and toxic chemicals and stimulates the production of new liver cells to replace damaged ones. Silymarin may also help prevent or treat gallstones by increasing the solubility of the bile, and provides an antidote to the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), which kills its victims by destroying liver cells. The standard dosage of milk thistle extract based on 70 - 80 percent silymarin content is from 70-210 milligrams three times daily. Milk thistle extracts have shown very low toxicity, even when taken over a long time.
Protects liver cells from solvent damage (alcohol & carbon tetrachloride)
Protects liver cells from liver poisoning
Acts as an antidote to death cap (A. phalloides) mushrooms
Stimulates production of new liver cells
Helps skin conditions related to poor liver function
Fights pollutants and inhibits free-radical damage.
Slows the advancement of liver Cirrhosis
Perhaps helpful in treating Hebatitis B