Some of you might know that we’re big fans of milk thistle over at Zesty Ginger.
As medical professionals that focus on detox health one of the basic tenants of all further functional testing and lab work, we’ve searched the textbooks, internet, and best teachers to find the most high yield detox tools.
Milk thistle easily fits the bill! And here’s why:
Milk thistle contains a compound called silybin. Silybin, in turn, acts in a number of very detox-advantageous ways.
Silybin in milk thistle functions as an antioxidant. Antioxidants have had a lot of press over the last several years and for good reason. Antioxidants fight compounds and reactive oxygen species (which are basically greedy cousins of oxygen in the body) that damage cellular structures in the body. Antioxidants have been looked at to decrease cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks, strokes, etc.) and lower the risk of cancer in the body through non-inflammatory cellular regeneration.
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This leads us to the next point: milk thistle acts a different anti-inflammatory agent through the action of silybin. It directly lowers the inflammatory response, helping to balance out levels that are conducive to cell regeneration and the controlled response we can mount to our environment.
The silybin in milk thistle also acts as a anti-lipid peroxidative. This is a fancy term to say that it protects cell membranes from damage. While this is important for the cardiovascular system, as stated above, it is also incredibly important for the liver. Milk thistle helps the liver function AND it helps lower the damage expose to toxins cause in the liver itself. It does this through increasing compounds that support the active rebuilding and maintenance of liver cells. When you think about it, that’s a pretty handy property to have for a detox tool!
What’s more is that milk thistle also helps to decrease the depletion of glutathione, a master antioxidant in the body. Glutathione acts by binding heavy metals that impede and “gunk-up” detox pathways and deactivates reactive oxygen species that wreak havoc on normal physiological processes and structures.
Glutathione optimization is a topic that often comes up in detoxification, anti-aging, and cardiovascular disease discussions…because it’s just that powerful! It’s power is was makes it a supplements that should be used only with direct health care supervision. Since not everyone needs to break out the big guns at this time, milk thistle is a good way to support good glutathione levels while incorporating a whole-food supplement in your life.
Disclaimer: there is NO herb, supplement, or detox tool should be used without the supervision of a practitioner. But since we know that people tend to do stuff at home by themselves anyways, we try to provide the safest way to do this in our posts. Also, please note that milk thistle isn’t for everyone: pregnant and lactating mothers should not plan to take milk thistle, as is the case for people on certain medications.
We prefer to buy this milk thistle because the tincture makes it easy to incorporate into our daily detox elixirs. We always have it in the rotation when we’re doing our Love Your Liver Seasonal Detox with our ladies! We’re pretty sure we’ve converted quite a few folks into our milk thistle fan club 🙂
We also like the tea version of milk thistle as a way to get started slowly with the whole-food version of the herb. By starting out with the herb as it comes in nature, it’s a great way to ease into the supplement without causing issues.