Like a lot of people, I drank wine every day. I knew that I was potentially damaging my liver — but cutting back on alcohol was hard, so I took the easier option of taking a daily milk thistle supplement. It made me feel a bit more responsible about my drinking I suppose!
Why milk thistle? Well, I’d kept hearing of people taking milk thistle tablets ‘the morning after the night before’, to help the liver cope with excesses of alcohol. It’s got to be worth a try I thought — but decided to check online as to the pros & cons. It turns out that taking a milk thistle supplement with a high Silymarin content (around 80%) is renowned for being able to detoxify the liver and could offer other benefits including help with weight loss, high cholesterol and diabetes 2, which I’ll mention later.
When I’d been taking the milk thistle supplement for quite some time (and years into my drinking habit), I was quite nervous to be sent by my doctor for a liver scan. Surprisingly, my results were well within the ‘normal’ range. And not just in — the numbers were WELL within normal range! Had my decision to take milk thistle paid off?
Now this is a personal account. Your results may differ.
A WEIRD EXPERIENCE
The scan was certainly a weird experience. Here’s why. You know when people comment on your drinking habits and you want to lie to them, play it down? This made me feel the opposite. I almost felt like a fraud. The Doc was speaking with an air of disbelief: “Those results don’t seem consistent with the amount you said you drank.”; “What do you drink”; “What strength?” I almost felt like I had to ‘up’ my drinking habits to justify my place on the scan bed!
When I offered my taking milk thistle as a reason for the great result, the medics present in the room wouldn’t or couldn’t agree with me, nor did they dismiss my reasoning. In fact they did admit to knowing that the supplement is given in rehab, to boost the liver function.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is called silymarin, and it apparently acts as an antioxidant. Scientists think this creates a detoxifying effect, and that’s why milk thistle may be beneficial for problems relating to the liver. Although I have no experience of the following conditions, there are claims that milk thistle can also help to: reduce cholesterol; boost the immune system; reduce insulin resistance in those with Type 2 Diabetes; and assist in treating degenerative conditions of the mind such as Alzheimer’s (source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320362.php
It’s also claimed to help with weight loss. I may have unknowingly benefited from this as I’m just a normal, average build female and whilst I definitely could have done with losing the ‘stomach’ at that time, I wasn’t grossly overweight as you might expect - considering that I used to drink at every possible opportunity.
IS IT SAFE?
If you’d like to know what it is, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a thorny plant with purple flowers and white-veined leaves. Originally from the Mediterranean region, it comes from the same family of plants as the daisy. Traditional stories claim the white veins were caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk falling onto its leaves. I’ll just leave that one with you!
Whilst you decide whether you’d benefit from taking the precaution of a daily milk thistle supplement — remember that remedies such as this have been around for over 200 years and millions of people around the world consult homeopaths. In fact, it’s recognised by the World Health Organisation as the second most practised medical system in the world. https://drjafersadiq.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/world-health-organisation-who-supports-homeopathy/
For me, it’s a no-brainer. If there’s natural relief from a condition, then I’m all for trying it, as I’m very dubious about the ‘big pharma’ industry and the eagerness with which we are consuming prescribed drugs. Who knows what the long term effects of those will be?
I’m tee-total now and so obviously, I’m not using my experience to condone irresponsible drinking. However, if you do over-indulge often — or even if you indulge just occasionally, I can only recommend taking milk thistle as a supplement as a precaution. And of course, if you’re already taking prescribed drugs — talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplement, to make sure it won’t interact.
They say that Mother Nature is the ultimate medicinal chemist. If my experience with milk thistle is anything to go by, I’m inclined to believe it.