Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that is part of the same family of plants as the dairy. Milk thistle is well-recognized for its role in promoting liver health. The active ingredient is silymarin, which acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production. This detoxifying effect may be beneficial for liver problems which is how milk thistle obtained its reputation. Two primary constituents, in addition to promoting liver health, is maintaining normal kidney function and promoting optimal immune function.
Milk thistle has also been taken for loss of appetite, gallbladder complaints and menopausal symptoms. Since its affinity to the liver has a relaxant effect, it is a good herb to use for cramping, constriction or spasms. It is also an important herb for the chronically stressed, under-slept and overworked, whose high levels of adrenaline put an increased strain on the liver. Milk thistle is moistening, with its seeds containing high quality fatty acids and mucilage. It is a mild expectorant, relieving states of dryness of loosening thick mucus.
There are a plethora of other reasons that people take milk thistle, including to reduce inflammation, to increase breast milk flow, start menstrual flow and to reduce hangover symptoms.