10 Proven Benefits of Milk Thistle

Reviewed by Experts

milk thistle - livayur

Milk thistle, also called Silybum Marianum, is a herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean region and has been in medicinal use for centuries. The plant is known for its distinctive white-veined leaves and prickly purple flower heads; its seeds are the source of its therapeutic benefits.[8]

For hundreds of years, herbalists have studied milk thistle liver uses, which have then been adopted as a natural antidote to support liver health and treat conditions like liver pathology, including fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatitis, as well as to protect the liver from environmental toxins.[1]

However, milk thistle benefits go beyond just that, and in this article, we shall learn more about what is milk thistle, what is milk thistle used for, and explore ten proven benefits of milk thistle and why it should be incorporated into the health regimen.

What is milk thistle?

To answer the question of what is milk thistle, it is essentially a medicinal plant that grows up to a height of approximately 2 meters.[8]It is native to Europe and was introduced into North America by early colonists and is now easily available throughout the eastern United States, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and California.[9]

Its most essential Silymarin component is found in the entire plant, but it is concentrated in the fruit and seeds. The milk thistle liver benefits are extremely popular in the Ayurvedic world and are highly efficient in restoring liver function and regenerating liver cells. Apart from this, it is also known for its antioxidant properties and hepatoprotective activity and is an effective antiviral treatment for the hepatitis C virus.[8]

10 proven benefits of milk thistle

1. Milk thistle liver benefits:

This is a well-known treatment for disorders related to the liver. Liver damage caused by alcohol, cirrhosis of the liver, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis, and many other conditions is taken care of by milk thistle liver cures. [1]

2. Treatment of asthma:

treatment of asthma - milk thistle benefits

One of the several proven milk thistle benefits is its ability to treat allergic asthma due to the presence of Silibinin. This is one of the main flavonoids produced by milk thistle. [2]

3. Effective against cancer:

It has been seen that the Silymarin extracted from milk thistle consists of flavonolignan silybin, which is known for its chemopreventive and chemosensitizing activity against various cancers.[3]

4. Used in the treatment of coronary heart diseases:

coronary heart diseases - milk thistle uses

It has been seen that when treated with the Silybin in milk thistle, there is a significant lowering of hepatic total cholesterol, triglycerides, VLDL-C, LDL-C, and an increase in HDL-C.[4]

5. Helps in diabetes control:

The milk thistle-induced silymarin treatment on diabetic patients has shown an improved and beneficial result.[5]

6. Prevents estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss:

Among the several milk thistle benefits is its ability to alleviate bone loss and the severe effects of osteoporosis.[6]

7. Works on inflammation-associated skin diseases:

When applied topically, milk thistle works as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps prevent inflammation-associated skin diseases.[7]

8. Helps fight against many neurological diseases:

Milk thistle has been proven to be effective against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, cerebral ischemia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.[8]

9. Has a lactogenic effect:

Milk thistle is also commonly used to enhance milk production in humans by increasing prolactin levels. [8]

10. Curative effects on the kidney:

It has been proven that plant extracts from milk thistle that were used against histopathological changes in the kidney due to toxicity showed a curative effect.[10]


  • Is milk thistle safe to use?

Yes, milk thistle is usually safe when used orally by most people. However, it may not agree in some cases and cause symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, and gas.

  • What is milk thistle used for?

Since ancient times, milk thistle has been in use for treating liver disorders and gallbladder problems and acts as a dietary supplement for hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice, diabetes, indigestion, and other conditions.

  • What is milk thistle tea good for?

One of the most proven benefits of milk thistle tea is to enhance liver health. According to studies, the plant also helps treat viral hepatitis, alcohol-related liver disease, and much more.


Studies have proven that milk thistle has various beneficial effects on human health through its anticancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, and lactogenic activities and properties. In this article, we have discussed at length some of the most effective and proven benefits of the plant, along with the milk thistle meaning and what is milk thistle used for.

This article is written from a health and wellness perspective and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.


  1. Milk Thistle
  2. Silibinin attenuates allergic airway inflammation in mice
  3. Silymarin and Cancer: A Dual Strategy in Both in Chemoprevention and Chemosensitivity
  4. Effect of Silybin on Lipid Profile in Hypercholesterolaemic Rats
  5. The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial
  6. Antiosteoclastic Activity of Milk Thistle Extract after Ovariectomy to Suppress Estrogen Deficiency-Induced Osteoporosis
  7. Potent inhibitory effect of silibinin from milk thistle on skin inflammation stimuli by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate
  9. Milk Thistle
  10. Protective effect of Silybum marianum and Taraxacum officinale extracts against oxidative kidney injuries induced by carbon tetrachloride in rats

Dr. Shankar Rao

Dr. Rao has achieved great success in his career, with 5 research projects and 4 books to his credit, as well as a Monograph. In addition to receiving the Bharat Scout & Guide Award from the President of India, Dr Rao has also won the Young Scientist Award from S.V. University, Tirupati.