Milk thistle liquid is the watery fluid that comes from the crushed leaves of the milk thistle plant. For centuries, it has been used as a medicinal remedy for a wide variety of ailments, most notably liver-related problems. Today, it is regarded as one of the most popular and widely studied herbal remedies, and most experts agree that if it is consumed as a daily supplement, there may be some health benefits. In health food stores, it may be found under the name of Milk Thistle Liquid, Silymarin, Thisilyn, or Silybum and can be purchased as an alcohol-free glycerite or seed extract.
The history of milk thistle and its medicinal use is long and generally well-documented. The early Romans used it to treat various ailments involving the liver, including jaundice and bile buildup. When mixed with honey, it was also believed to cure stomachache and lack of appetite. One of the earliest mentions of milk thistle liquid can be found in writings of Theophrastus, a physician from the fourth century BC, and for more than 2,000 years, it has been a common herbal treatment in Europe.
For the past 20 years, studies have concentrated primarily on what effects milk thistle liquid may have on liver damage and disease. The research suggests that it may speed up the rejuvenation of damaged cells in the liver and may prove beneficial to patients with cirrhosis and hepatitis. An excess of 300 individual studies have been added to the the United States National Library of Medicine regarding the effects of milk thistle and milk thistle liquid on the liver—most of these studies were conducted in Europe.
In addition to positive effects as a remedy, milk thistle liquid is also believed to act as a guard against toxins entering the liver. Since the liver is the second largest organ of the body, protecting it from toxins could be seen as a good first step in promoting overall health. Nutritionists generally agree that in current society, the average diet contains dangerous toxins such as lead, mercury, and chemicals used to preserve foods. A supplement such as milk thistle liquid may help to counteract the harmful effects of these toxins. Milk thistle and milk thistle liquid may also help with skin disorders such as psoriasis, and ongoing studies are researching whether or not it may reduce the risks of certain types of cancer such as prostate and lung cancer.