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Milk Thistle (available from numerous manufacturers), Silymarin, Milk Thistle Extract, Milk Thistle Super Complex, Milk Thistle Phytosome, Alcohol Free Milk Thistle Seed, Milk Thistle Extract, Milk Thistle Plus, Silymarin Milk Thistle, Milk Thistle Power, Time Release Milk Thistle Power, Thisilyn Standardized Milk Thistle Extract
Medicinal Parts: The medicinal parts of the plant are the ripe seeds.
Flower and Fruit: The inflorescences are large, solitary and purple. They consist of somewhat nodding, composite flower heads. The perigone is globular. The inner tepals taper to a slender point, and the outer tepals are tough at the base, then spread and terminate at a horny tip. There are only tubular florets. The fruit is brown, spotted and glossy, with a white tuft of hair.
Leaves, Stem and Root: The plant grows from 70 to 150 cm high with an erect stem. The leaves are arranged in different levels with the lower leaves indented-pinnatisect, and the upper ones lanceolate and clasping. There are white spots along the ribs of the leaf and yellow thorns at the margin.
Habitat: The plant is indigenous to Europe.
Other Names: Marian Thistle, Mediterranean Milk Thistle, Mary Thistle
ACTIONS AND PHARMACOLOGY
COMPOUNDS: MILK THISTLE HERB
Flavonoids: in particular, apigenin-, luteolin- and kaempferol-7-0-glycosides, apigenin-4,7'-di-0-glucoside, kaempferol-7-0-glucoside-3-sulfate
Steroids: sterols, including beta-sitosterol, beta-sitosterol glucoside
Organic Acids: fumaric acid (3.3%)
(Silymarin is absent; it is localized only in the seed case)
COMPOUNDS: MILK THISTLE SEED
Silymarin (flavonolignan mixture,1.5-3%): chief components silybin A, silybin B (mixture known as silibinin), isosilybin A, isosilybin B, silychristin, silydianin
Flavonoids: apigenin, chrysoeriol, eriodictyol, naringenin, quercetin, taxifolin
Fatty oil (20-30%)
In clinical studies, milk thistle has been shown to have a positive hepatoprotective effect in the treatment of liver cirrhosis associated with chronic alcohol abuse or viruses. In animal, in vitro and clinical studies, the primary action of silymarin as an antioxidant is a protectant for the kidneys and liver. A small number of studies on silymarin's effect on biliary lipid composition in both animals and adults concluded a reduction of biliary cholesterol concentrations. The effectiveness of silymarin is difficult to evaluate due to multiple agent treatment protocols in studies with adults and animals, but the results appear to be positive in the treatment of mushroom poisoning. The cholagogue effect of the drug has not been documented.
Hepatoprotective Effects: The hepatoprotective activity of the seed is from silymarin, in particular, silychristin and silydianin. The compounds seem to inhibit the entrance of toxins and block toxin-binding sites through alteration of the liver cell's outer membrane. (Hikino, 1994; Leng-Peschlow, 1996). The hepatoprotective effect of silibinin also involves different functions of the Kupffer cells. Silibinin decreases production of superoxide anion radicals and nitric oxide (free-radical scavenger or antioxidant) by the Kupffer cells. Silibinin also inhibits leukotriene formation by the Kupffer cells (Dehmlow, 1996). Silymarin increases glutathione production by the liver, intestines and stomach. …