Milk thistle : Health benefits - Interactions


Milk thistle

Milk thistle is a plant with large, prickly leaves.

Milk thistle seeds are ground to extract an active ingredient called silymarin. Silymarin is thought to have antioxidant properties.

Milk thistle is sold in pill form and as an extract. People use it to treat liver diseases.

Milk thistle : Health benefits

  • Milk thistle is a plant that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various health ailments. It is often recognized for its potential liver-protecting properties and its ability to promote healthy liver function. The active compound in milk thistle, known as silymarin, is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, milk thistle may help in detoxifying the body by supporting liver detoxification pathways.

  • Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a medicinal herb that has been used for centuries due to its numerous health benefits. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is characterized by its beautiful purple flowers and spiky leaves. The active ingredient in milk thistle, called silymarin, has been extensively studied and has shown remarkable potential in supporting liver health. Additionally, milk thistle has antioxidant properties that help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins and free radicals.


Studies that examine the use of milk thistle for specific conditions show that it is helpful.

  • Diabetes.Some people think that milk thistle might lower blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes, but more research is needed to confirm this.

  • Indigestion (dyspepsia).Taking milk thistle along with other supplements might improve the symptoms of indigestion.

  • Liver disease.Some research suggests that milk thistle may help improve liver disease symptoms, while other research shows no benefits.

Our take

Generally safe

Milk thistle might help treat certain liver conditions.

Safety and side effects

There is evidence that milk thistle taken in appropriate doses is safe.

Milk thistle can cause:

  • Gastrointestinal problems can include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal bloating.

  • Itchiness

  • Headache

If you have diabetes, use milk thistle with caution as the supplement might lower blood sugar. There is also concern that milk thistle might affect estrogen levels. If you have breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, consider avoiding milk thistle.

Milk thistle can cause an allergic reaction, which can be severe and potentially life-threatening. People who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed daisies, marigolds and chrysanthemums, are more likely to experience an allergic reaction.


Possible interactions include:

  • Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates.Taking milk thistle might reduce the levels of this enzyme and other drugs that it processes. This means milk thistle might affect the levels of these drugs in your body.

  • Diabetes medications.People with type 2 diabetes might see their blood sugar levels lowered by milk thistle supplements. Be very careful monitoring your blood sugar levels and speak to your doctor before taking milk thistle supplements if you are taking diabetes medications.

  • Raloxifene (Evista).If you are taking raloxifene, milk thistle may affect how your liver processes the medication, which could result in higher levels of the drug in your bloodstream. Talk to your doctor before taking milk thistle if you're taking raloxifene.

  • Simeprevir.Combining milk thistle and simeprevir might increase levels of the drug in your blood plasma. Do not take milk thistle along with simeprevir.

  • Sirolimus (Rapamune).Taking milk thistle with this immunosuppressive medication might change how your body processes the medication.

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