What is Milk Thistle Seed Extract?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2018
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Milk thistle seed extract comes from the stout flowering plant of the same name, also known as Silybum marianum. The extract is used as as an herbal remedy, detox base, and tea. It also contains antioxidants, making it a helpful nutritional supplement.

Used for thousands of years as a liver cleanser, milk thistle seed extract can also be helpful in remedying gallbladder problems. The herb is used as a treatment for these health issues most commonly in the United States and Europe. Milk thistle has dozens of other names, including lady's thistle, snake milk, wild artichoke, and kanger.

Oral supplements that contain milk thistle seed extract have shown promise in rectifying damage caused by cirrhosis of the liver. The antioxidants present within the cells of the extract may provide it with cancer-fighting abilities as well. Studies indicate that the herb may slow the growth of certain cancerous cells, such as those in cervical and breast tissue.

Lowering cholesterol may be one of the many milk thistle benefits applicable to humans. Some women drink milk thistle tea in order to combat premenstrual or menopausal symptoms. The tea may also promote stress relief. Many doctors utilize milk thistle seed extract in treating viral forms of hepatitis, with studies showing that some improvements of the liver can result from the regimen.


Pet owners sometimes use milk thistle seed extract to treat health problems their dogs may face. Uses for milk thistle for dogs include treating the animals for inflammatory bowel disease, liver inflammation, and infections. It can be given to companion animals following a surgical procedure or vaccination to help the animals recover. It may also help keep gallstones from developing in dogs.

This herbal extract is largely considered safe for use. Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing, however, should avoid the treatment without the approval of a physician. Side effects of milk thistle extract may include upset stomach or softening of the stool. For best use, milk thistle capsules should be stored in a cool, dry place.

The milk thistle plant is a member of the daisy family. It features large, prickly leaves common to many forms of thistle. The name of the plant comes from the milky sap contained within its waxy leaves. The plant's flower is typically bright purple and spiky, growing from a tall, thick stem. The milk thistle genus contains two species, which are known as silver milk thistle and blessed milk thistle.



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