Some studies also suggest that milk thistle helps promote liver and heart health.
It helps boost liver health
Milk thistle is often used to address liver problems.
In a 2016 study, scientists discovered that milk thistle improved diet-induced liver damage in mice. Researchers theorize that humans can also reap the same benefits since milk thistle contains an active ingredient called silymarin that functions as an antioxidant and helps reduce free radical production.
According to the researchers, silymarin had a detoxifying effect linked to milk thistle's benefits for liver problems. While milk thistle isn't recommended as a primary treatment option for liver problems, it can be helpful as a natural and complementary treatment.
It can help lower your cholesterol levels
Having high cholesterol may cause problems with heart health and increase your stroke risk.
The results of a 2006 study revealed that milk thistle can be used to naturally manage cholesterol levels. Scientists reported that cholesterol levels were lower in the volunteers who were given milk thistle to treat diabetes than those who received a placebo.
While you can buy milk thistle extract from a specialty store, it's better to learn how to make it at home to save money and avoid harmful chemicals in store-bought products. (Related: Urban prepping 101: How to grow medicinal herbs in an apartment.)
When made and stored properly, the extract should be shelf-stable for one to two years and it can remain potent for a minimum of five years.
Findings suggest that silymarin in milk thistle has antioxidant properties that offer benefits when used to treat cirrhosis and liver problems, along with kidney and spleen issues. Silymarin can also help with weight loss, insulin resistance and skin conditions like rashes.
To make milk thistle extract, you need to mix it in equal parts with alcohol or glycerin. If you need to make a milk thistle tincture, you need one part natural matter (herbs) to three parts alcohol or glycerin.
Use seeds from the milk thistle flower cones to make the extract. Once the seeds are crushed, the silymarin is released through cracks in the seed shell.
You can also use milk thistle tea in this manner, but it's not as potent as the extract.
Milk thistle extract can be used to treat boils, skin rashes, or as a wound wash. To make any of the items on the list below, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the extract to the recipe to prevent chapped skin, promote cell growth and promote faster healing.
Milk thistle extract recipe
If you're not used to taking milk thistle extract, consult your physician to check for possible drug or allergic interactions.
Once you've confirmed that you can safely take milk thistle extract, use it to naturally treat liver conditions and maintain your heart health.