Milk thistle - Silybum marianum

Milk thistle, intro, appearance and characteristics.

Milk thistle is a vigorous, very decorative 0.5 to 1.5 meter tall, biennial medicinal plant with large white marbled leaves. It develops purple flowers in July-August. The plant has been used as a medicinal plant for depression and liver diseases for centuries. Today, it is still used within the herbal medicine industry as a remedy for liver diseases, chronic inflammation and poisoning.

Milk thistle can also cleanse the skin of toxins. Eg. removes the itch and irritation if you have come too close to nettles or have had an insect bite. It will thrive in a sunny growing area, and it is considered one of the most beautiful of thistle plants. With its large green white-marbled, thorny and jagged leaves and with its beautiful purple-red and spherical flowers, it occupies a special place among those medicinal plants that stimulate bile and liver function. Most species of thistle are good nectar plants, but milk thistle is one of the best, perhaps because of its very large purple flowers that smell sweetly of nectar. It attracts many different groups of insects, including butterflies, hoverflies, honeybees and bumblebees.

Milk thistle locations
Naturally growing wild in Southern Europe, North Africa and West Asia, but has strayed further north in Europe. Milk thistle is most often found along roadsides, on fallow fields and cultivated land, in parks and gardens. It is cultivated outdoors for its healing properties. Prefers calcareous soil and a sunny growing area.

1. A legend tells of the origin of the leaf spots, that during the flight to Egypt, the Virgin Mary nursed her child in the desert, and some drops of her breast milk fell on a half-withered thistle, which immediately revived and then bore the white spots. Another version tells that where a drop of milk fell on the ground this plant sprouted.

2. Monks and natives in areas with poisonous snakes, compared the spots of the milk thistle to a snake skin, and decided on this basis that an extract of the thistle must be useful in the treatment of snake bites. This proved to be true, if only when the bites in question were from the less venomous species.

3. At the end of the 18th century, the church advised the farmers to tie a bag with the seeds from milk thistle on the neck of the cows as a protection against witchcraft.

4. Did you know that the content of vitamin E in the thistle plant is so high that the oil is often marketed as liquid vitamin E?

Milk thistle active ingredients and their effects

Milk thistle has a detoxifying effect on the liver, both preventively and therapeutically, and can be used with great success to treat acute and sub-acute liver inflammation. Today, the plant is primarily used for the treatment of hepatitis and jaundice, as well as for conditions where the liver is under stress, either due to an infection, exposure to industrial or environmental toxins, excessive alcohol intake, drug poisoning, or from chemotherapy in connection with cancer. Milk thistle can both remedy the damage caused to the liver by chemotherapy, and contribute to the recovery process during convalescence after treatment.

The two most important components in therapeutic terms are the substances silymarin and vitamin E.

Silymarin is a mixture of the flavonoids silybin (or silibinin, if you like), silychristin, silydianin (also called silymonin), silandrin and several others. These are substances that are only found in the seed shells and they make up a very small part of the milk thistle seed. These substances were unknown in the plant kingdom until they were found in milk thistle. The seeds also contain a fatty oil that has a high content of linoleic acid. The seeds also contain essential oils, bitter substances, resin, proteins, sterols, mucilage substances, sugars, amino acids, saponins and vitamin E.

Silymarin, which is extracted from the seeds, protects liver cells from all kinds of toxins, such as carbon tetrachloride, alcohol, fungal toxins, viruses, free radicals and heavy metals. It can be used both preventively and therapeutically in connection with cirrhosis, acute and chronic inflammation of the liver (all types), gall bladder diseases, jaundice, high cholesterol, poor digestion and allergies.

The substance silymarin in the milk thistle seeds has been shown to be effective as a supportive treatment for chronic liver inflammation caused by underlying virus-based hepatitis. A study on how silymarin significantly increased the survival time of patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis compared to placebo. This effect may be due to the fact that silymarin promotes protein synthesis. People with alcohol-related liver problems should use silymarin for four to eight weeks before they can expect to see signs of liver improvement.

The number of liver injuries caused by prescription drugs for various diseases is increasing, and here silymarin is also useful for restoring the liver's functions. Some medicine is vital, and in this connection a certain degree of liver damage can be expected in the individual. In such cases, it is beneficial to prescribe milk thistle as a liver protectant to reduce damage to the liver. Through several studies, silymarin has been shown to promote the liver's regeneration process after the medication has ended, and in cases where you cannot finish the medication, it is absolutely worth taking a supplement of silymarin at the same time.

Most people think of resins as amorphous substances that are insoluble in water but easily soluble in alcohol, ether and hot oil. These are substances that soften and melt when heated and burn with a sooty, yellow flame. The typical resins are yellowish or brown substances that break with a vitreous fracture surface. Some are almost odorless or have only a faint smell of turpentine. Others have fragrance from essential oils dissolved in them. The hard, odorless ones have previously been used as varnish or as an additive in cement. The soft, fragrant resins have had and still have many uses as flavoring and perfume substances, such as frankincense, myrrh and "pine needle scent". The thin-flowing resins are also known as resin oils, and when they contain e.g. benzoic acid or cinnamic acid, they are called balsams. Other, more viscous resins contain slimes and latexes. They are called rubber substances.

Bees produce e.g. propolis of resin

Essential oils are substances that have an oily nature and are relatively easy to evaporate. The smell is very different, from pleasant to the disgustingly stinky. These substances are found in all plant parts, in roots, stems, leaves, flowers or seeds in varying amounts. The effect is very uneven, mainly they have a cleansing effect, for example on the skin and mucous membranes. In a suitable concentration, they can affect the skin's blood flow. They can stimulate cold nerves, at the same time as they are sweat-promoting and diuretic. Some of these oils have a particularly positive effect on the intestinal tract system, for example American oil.

The fatty acids were previously mentioned about the F vitamins. They resemble vitamins in several ways. Partly they are necessary for the cells and good health and partly the body cannot produce them. They must be included as part of the diet or taken as a supplement . The vital fatty acids are precursors to the prostaglandins, which are formed primarily from linoleic acid and are a series of fatty acids that influence a wide range of physiological processes.

Bitter substances are a common name for many chemically very different substances, for example glycosides and alkaloids, which occur in plants, including wormwood. As the name suggests, these are substances that give the plant a bitter expression when used.

The bitter substances fully live up to their name. They taste concentrated bitter. Many of the bitter substances are used to stimulate the appetite and digestion because they cause increased saliva and gastric juice secretion.

Flavonoids have a number of important nutritional functions. These functions are described as "modification of biological reactions". Most have antioxidant properties and some of them have anti-inflammatory properties.

The tanning substances have an astringent effect on the skin and mucous membranes.

Saponins are a group of compound substances that can be difficult to distinguish in structure and activity. They are still not fully explored. But we know that the mucous membranes have difficulty absorbing them. If they are brought directly into the bloodstream, they act as toxins and can destroy the production of red blood cells. However, as long as the mucous membranes are not damaged, the extracts of the soapy plants can, with a few exceptions, be used without risk. In folk medicine, these plants are mostly used as a blood purifier. They are effective against uric acid gout and rashes. The most well-known of these plants are primrose, royal candle, liverwort, fenugreek, pimpinella and asparagus.

Vitamin E acts as a blood thinner, protects the body's fatty acids from breakdown and helps the skin to maintain its elasticity, as well as protecting the skin from rapid ageing.

Vitamin E also, like selenium, increases resistance to viruses and bacteria and prevents cancer.

It also protects against the side effects that accompany radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Vitamin E also prevents poisoning by heavy metals.

Milk thistle easy recipes.

The young leaves and stems can be eaten directly and the slightly nutty flavor can be a refreshing addition to a delicious spring and summer salad, and as a curiosity it can be mentioned that the flower baskets have been used as artichokes.

In natural medicine, the milk thistle oil is known for its many areas of application. But it is best known for its qualities in connection with liver disorders.

It is widely used for liver disorders such as e.g. cirrhosis, fatty liver, hepatitis, liver inflammation and jaundice, but it is not only the liver function that benefits from the milk thistle oil. It is also used for chronic inflammation of the gallbladder and for mushroom poisoning and other poisonings. In addition, milk thistle oil is used for abdominal problems, menstrual problems, depression, and as a supportive treatment during chemotherapy. In addition to these areas of application, milk thistle also has its justification for disorders such as psoriasis, sun eczema, hair loss, boils, obesity, irritated colon and obesity.

Carduus (Homeopathic remedy based on milk thistle).

The homeopathic remedy Carduus is primarily used as a liver-strengthening drug that has a detoxifying effect on the liver. It is made by soaking dried milk thistle seeds in water for one to two days before extracting them in alcohol.

You will need that
100 g milk thistle seeds
50 cl. 60% denatured alcohol possibly molasses spirit, other alcohol such as e.g. vodka can also be used
1 jam jar or 1 /jar/jar with screw lid.

Course of action
The dried seeds are soaked in water for one to two days. The water is then turned off. I myself use a flour sieve to sift through the seeds, then I blow them briefly with a hair dryer, and then put them in the glass, pour alcohol over them so that the alcohol covers approx. 1 cm.

Leave for 3 – 5 weeks (shake the mixture at least a few times a week). When it has withdrawn, you say off the seeds. The frasiede is pressed through a slow juicer, a mechanical plant press or alternatively it can be twisted through a piece of cloth. The two liquids are subsequently mixed together. You now have a carduus/tincture 1:5, i.e. 1 part herb and 5 parts liquid.

Consume 1 – 5 ml daily. If you want to use your carduus therapeutically, you should involve your doctor, you can of course, according to the agreement with this agreement, an intake of up to 15 ml, i.e. a maximum of 15 ml, (you should not do this for longer periods. After 5 weeks of intake, take a break before a possible resumption).

For sun eczema: Apply and rub a drop of caduus directly onto the eczema.

Wound healing: There are several studies that indicate that silymarin can be used to promote wound healing. Again, caduus is applied directly to the affected area.

In food: Seeds, young leaves and stems can be used as a refreshing element in the salad. The inflorescence has been used as an artichoke throughout the ages. It is excellent for a surprising and tasty substitute for artichoke, which is also a thistle after all.