Milk Thistle Benefits – An Antioxidant and Detoxifier

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Milk thistle’s 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 too much partying.

And, due to its possible antioxidant action it’s 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. We are being exposed to toxins daily with every breath we take. This, 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. It 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?

Antioxidant rich foods and natural anti aging supplements are absolutely CRUCIAL to health. They also help to repair the cell damage inflicted by toxins that enter our bodies through the various and many sources of the modern, toxic world.

These toxins (or free radicals as they are also called) can come in many forms.

Examples are – tobacco, alcohol, pollution, household cleaning products, trans fats, sugar, sun exposure, and chemicals in our food.

What are Free Radicals?

unpaired electrons

Free radicals 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 not a good thing to happen neither for brain or body.

It is vital that we slow down the aging process as much as possible to help negate the onset of age related diseases.

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 benefits.

Chronic inflammation is now believed by many scientists to be one the root causes of many modern day illnesses. This type of inflammation 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 food. And, potentially 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. 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. 

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Milk Thistle and Detoxification

Many people will use this herb during a detox program because 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. Thus, making your immune system stronger, your mind and memory sharper, and your skin clearer.

Anti Aging

beautiful skin woman

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 the vitamin supplements C and E (or foods high in these nutrients) to your diet will enhance the anti aging effects. And, also have a noticeable effect on skin tone and texture, as these two other nutrients are good for the skin specifically.

Milk Thistle Benefits


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. It breaks down old and damaged blood cells, produces bile to break down fat and cholesterol and assists in blood clotting.

The liver never stops and is one of our most important organs for our health and immunity. This is why it may need a helping hand at times.


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 may 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.

This boosts the function of the gallbladder and helps 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.

That’s not to mention strength and bio-availability (if something doesn’t have good bio-availability, then 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 today!

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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6 thoughts on “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!

    1. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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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