4 Top Milk Thistle Benefits – An Antioxidant and Detoxifier

The top 4 milk thistle benefits include what it’s probably most renowned for; its unique ability of helping to detoxify the liver. It’s often the herb we run to when we feel in need of a cleanse after maybe too much partying, and due to its powerful antioxidant action it’s also often used as a supplement on a detox program.

Taking measures to keep your body detoxifying adequately is crucial in the world we now live in, as we are being exposed to toxins daily with every breath we take; and also along with much of the food that enters our bodies in the form of chemical pesticides, fertilisers, trans fats and refined sugars.

Milk Thistle, or Silymarin (which is its active compound and the other name it is commonly known) is a herb related to the ragweed and daisy family, and is mostly grown in different countries around the Mediterranean where it is a well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb.

Why do we need antioxidants?

woman smoking

Antioxidant rich foods and supplements are absolutely CRUCIAL to health, and help to repair the cell damage inflicted by toxins that enter our bodies through the various and many sources indicated above. These toxins (or free radicals as they are also called) can come in many forms i.e. tobacco, alcohol, pollution, household cleaning products, trans fats, sugar, sun exposure, and chemicals in our food.

What are Free Radicals?

These are unpaired electrons that scavenge the healthy cells in your body to make themselves complete again. This process not only damages those healthy cells, but also other proteins and your DNA; in turn this damage actually accelerates the aging process, which is of course, really not ideal.

It is vital that we slow down the aging process as much as possible to help negate the onset of age related diseases, and a way to do this (along with potentially using a liver detoxifyer such as milk thistle) is to drastically cut down your exposure to the above environmental toxins; or at least the ones that are within your control.

Fighting Chronic Inflammation

The fact that milk thistle is an anti inflammatory is another of its many great benefits. Chronic inflammation is now believed by many scientists to be one the root causes of many modern day illnesses, and is often caused by food sensitivities (usually from junk foods such as trans fats, chemical additives and sugar) – OR anything else that causes the immune system jump into action.

Food and inflammation

Most of us are eating daily the foods that are contributing to the chronic, low grade inflammation that can be so harmful. This inflammation can be reduced vastly by eating a diet rich in plant foods, and maybe also the inclusion of other anti inflammatory supplements such as milk thistle. 

It is important to see the correlation between detoxifying the body and the reduction of inflammation. You can’t take any one supplement and expect everything to be fine and dandy, as there are so many other variables involved, therefore you will need to apply other healthy lifestyle changes to ensure long term health and protection from disease. 

Milk Thistle and Detoxification

Many people will use this herb during a detox program, as it may help boost the liver with its detoxification processes. When the liver is firing in all cylinders and doing its job well it will effect every system in the body, making your immune system stronger, your mind and memory sharper, and your skin clearer.

Anti Aging

The way in which milk thistle slows down the aging process is through its powerful antioxidant effects both inside and out. It works as well as other antioxidants such as natural vitamin C and vitamin E; both of which also slow down the aging process by fighting the free radical damage that can lead to diseases.

Adding vitamin supplements C and E (or foods high in these nutrients) to your detox plan, will enhance the anti aging effects and have a noticeable effect on skin tone and texture, as these two other nutrients are good for the skin SPECIFICALLY!

4 Amazing Benefits of Milk Thistle


Although more studies need to be done in this area, milk thistle may help support the liver by helping to rebuild cells and remove harmful toxins. It can help naturally reverse the effects of alcohol, pesticides, pollution, and heavy metals.

The liver is our largest organ and it works hard purifying and filtering the blood continuously, breaking down old and damaged blood cells, producing bile to break down fat and cholesterol, and assisting in blood clotting. It never stops and is one of our most important organs for our health and immunity, which is why we must give it a helping hand at times.


According to the US Natural Library of Medicine, milk thistle is considered a powerful anti inflammatory that can help lower the risk of heart disease. Heart disease (often caused by chronic inflammation) is one of the top causes of death in the Western world – so it’s truly vital to keep inflammation down for this reason alone.

It may also help prevent artery damaging oxidative stress by literally ‘cleaning the blood’.


There is some compelling evidence according to the National Institute of Health to show that silymarin may help control diabetes symptoms when used alongside conventional treatments. This is more than likely due to the effects of its powerful antioxidants which help to reduce blood sugar levels in insulin resistant patients.


The liver works closely with the gallbladder, intestines, kidneys and pancreas to keep your system detoxified, and as the liver is a blood cleanser milk thistle can help clear the body of metabolic waste, thus boosting the function of the gallbladder and helping in the prevention of gallstones forming.

Possible Milk Thistle Side Effects

Milk thistle can cause side effects AND interact with certain medications. Therefore if you take prescription drugs you should always consult with your doctor before considering this supplement.

Side effects when they do occur include the following. If you experience any of these then you should discontinue use and seek medical advice immediately.

      • Stomach bloating, pain or gas
      • Indigestion
      • Itchy skin
      • Feeling sick
      • Lack of appetite
      • Diarrhea
      • Rash
      • Severe Allergic Reaction


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As with any form of supplementation, you should always buy from a trusted and preferably organic brand for high standards and quality control; not to mention strength and bio-availability (if something doesn’t have good bio-availability, your body can’t absorb it easily and you are going to end up with some very expensive pee! The very reason why you must choose quality with ALL supplements).

Check out for yourself some of these great brands here on Amazon.

Thanks for reading this post from zestforever. Remember that any supplements you use must be taken alongside a general healthy diet and exercise plan for long term health and protection from disease. If you have any comments or experiences that you would like to share about this supplement then please feel free to share them below.

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Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2020, not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 3 years, and created Zestforever to share my experiences, trials, errors, how I overcame them, and to show you how easy it is for you to do it for yourself and thrive too!

I have studied, tried and tested all manner of healthy lifestyles over the past 20 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz that plant based eating has. I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor, and have a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer reviewing and contributing to posts.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant to show you ways of potentially boosting your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

6 thoughts on “4 Top Milk Thistle Benefits – An Antioxidant and Detoxifier”

  1. Hi,
    Milk thistle sounds like a wonderful herb to add to a diet even if you aren’t trying to detox. I am wondering if rehab centers encourage this? I would think it would be very beneficial in those facilities. Are there any side effects, like flu symptoms? Sometimes when the body is ridding itself of toxins, people get flu-like symptoms that do go away. Would you need to increase your water intake for the day? Thank you for the interesting information on milk thistle, it seems to have so many benefits!

    • Hi there and thanks for reading,

      I would like to think that rehab centers do encourage these supplements as it has been well documented for a long time how effective they are to cleanse the liver. And yes, like with any detox supplements there is a chance you will feel worse before better i.e. fatigue and headaches, but I’m pretty sure these symptoms are mostly due to other things that many people do during a detox such as cutting out sugar, caffeine, alcohol and junk foods. All of which will have withdrawal effects.

      And yes always drink lots of water while detoxing to flush everything out.

      Let me know if you have any more questions and I will be more than happy to help

  2. It seems that new products are developed to help prevent disease or make out organ healthier all the time. Until reading your post I never heard of Milk Thistle. Should my primary physician be familiar with Milk Thistle? Should healthy people use this product or people at high risk of heart disease?

    • Hi Edgar, thanks for reading my article. Yes, I am pretty sure your physician will definitely of heard of Milk Thistle (although some mainstream doctors don’t always know much about herbs as I guess it’s just not part of their training). Anyway, it would hurt to ask their opinion. I personally take milk thistle sporadically for the simple fact I don’t like to take anything long term without breaks. If you do this then you should have no problems. I am already very healthy but I take supplements to stay that way. No point in closing the stable door after the horse has bolted as they say, so I would say just take low doses of herbs such as these and have breaks. Milk thistle is primarily used as a liver detoxifier, and it stands to reason that when the body is in a good state of detoxification then your whole body will be healthy and your immune system strong.

  3. Wow, wow, wow, I haven’t heard about this plant before but it really has some amazing health benefits. I am going to try it for myself, thank you Stefanie for sharing these amazing articles with us. Your articles are always very helpful for our health with your chemical free herbal tips and best thing is, your ideas are so so simple, great especially for people with busy schedules.

    • Yes, it’s all about chemical free for healing as it is the only way that truly works long term. I love herbs and also work in a herbal apothecary with a well known herbalist and so I see first hand the effects that they have on people every day. It truly is just amazing to see and I have a new found respect for plants. Thank you for your comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article and have been inspired to try something new.


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