Silymarin is an antioxidant flavonoid C25H22O10 consisting
mixture of three isomers isolated from seeds of the milk thistle, held
to have properties protecting the liver from or clearing it of toxins,
and used in dietary supplements and herbal remedies .
Scientific Name: Milk Thistle.
Other Names: Cardui mariae, Carduus marianum, Holy Thistle,
Lady's Thistle, Legalon, Marian Thistle, Mariendistel, Mary Thistle, Our
Lady's Thistle, Silimarina, Silybin, Silybum marianum, St. Mary Thistle.
Silymarin provided protection against the toxic effects of
long-term treatment with psychotropic drugs (used in mental illness) in a
randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study of 60 people.
Before the study began, all of the participants had been taking the psychotropic
drugs phenothiazine or butyrophenone, or both, for at least 5 years. Subjects
were divided into four groups for the 3-month trial:
group I: took psychotropic drugs and a high dose of silymarin (800 mg per
group II: took psychotropic with placebo,
group III: took silymarin only (800 mg per day),
group IV: took placebo.
liver protection to group I by
reducing blood levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), an indicator of liver damage
that increases during long-term treatment with psychotropics.
Not surprisingly, the decrease in MDA levels was even greater in the group
silymarinalone (group III ).
Patients in group II
continued to experience rising levels of MDA,
whereas those who took placebo in group IV had declining MDA levels until
the psychotropics were reinstated. There were no adverse effects associated with
Milk Thistle treatment.
The usage of Silymarin:
Milk thistle contains several chemicals with possible medical effects. Most
current research focuses on one of them,
silymarin, which may have specific
protective effects on cells in the liver.
In multiple human, animal, and laboratory studies,
silymarin has shown differing
degrees of effectiveness for protecting the liver from damage caused by alcohol,
chemicals, drugs, diseases, and poisonous plants. It is used to treat both acute
conditions (such as poisoning) and long-term diseases (such as hepatitis C).
Silymarin and other chemicals in milk thistle are believed to protect liver
cells in several different ways:
has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to prevent or
lessen damage to body cells that is caused by a chemical process called
► Silymarin as anti-inflammatory effects of help keep liver cells from
swelling in response to injury.
seems to encourage the liver to grow new cells, while
discouraging the formation of inactive fibrous tissue.
► By changing the outside layer of liver cells, silymarin may also keep
certain harmful chemicals from getting into liver cells.
► Silymarin may also cause the immune system to be more active.
► Silymarin and cancer: Silymarin and other chemicals from milk thistle
they seem to interrupt cancer cell division as well as shortening the
time that cancer cells live. They may also stop or limit the formation
of new blood vessels that supply tumors. Most research has centered on
breast cancer and prostate cancer, but milk thistle is also being tested
for treating other cancers such as Leukemia. Silibinin may even help to
restore damaged skin somewhat by mending DNA that has been harmed by
ultraviolet rays. In addition, some chemicals from milk thistle may
increase the effectiveness of current anticancer drugs.
Some of these anticancer effects are being studied in early-phase human trials, but none is confirmed, yet.
How does Silymarin Work?
An animal study performed in rats demonstrated a reduction in kidney
damage following administration of cisplatin without diminished
Other studies indicate the flavonoids in milk thistle has anticancer
effects by inducing G1 and S phase arrest in cells.
Especially How It Works for Liver?
Milk thistle provides hepatocellular protection by stabilizing hepatic cell
membranes. It alters the structure of the outer cell membrane of the
hepatocytes in such a way as to prevent the penetration of the liver toxins into
interior of the cell. The stimulation effect on nucleolar polymerase A results
in an increase in ribosomal protein synthesis, and thus increase the
regenerative ability of the liver and the formation of new hepatocytes. Other
actions include interruption of enterohepatic recirculation of toxins and
regeneration of damaged hepatocytes.
Prevents toxins from entering the liver by guarding the organ's
numerous doorways-the membranes of liver cells. By slowing the rate at which
the liver absorbs harmful substances, the toxins are excreted through the
kidneys before they can cause liver damage.
The most dramatic example of this is Milk Thistle's ability to block poisons
from the deathcap, mushroom (Amanita phalloides), one of the most notorious
liver toxins known to humans.
Protective effect due to the flavonoid complex
silymarin, which acts as a powerful antioxidant, combining with and thus
neutralizing harmful free radicals that result from normal metabolic
processes and from the breakdown of toxic substances.
Because silymarin is a potent
in the stomach and intestines, it may
also have a role to play in treating inflammatory conditions such as colitis and
Silymarin (milk thistle) reverses liver cell damage, increases protein
level ...... It destroys old red blood cells, produces lymphocytes and
When damage has already been done, Milk Thistle aids the liver in repairing
injured cells and generating new ones. It does this by stimulating protein
synthesis through the enzyme RNA polymerase I. Protein is a basic building block
of cell walls, cell structures, and enzymes that are vital to all body
processes.Milk thistle's regenerative ability is
essential for treating serious conditions such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis,
and toxic fatty deposits in the liver.
Silybin and silychristin:
Of the many compounds that make up the silymarin complex, silybin
and silychristin are the two most potent ones, according to current
pharmacological studies.Unfortunately, these compounds are relatively
poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Some studies suggest an
absorption rate of just 20 to 50 percent, which explains why it is so
important to take standardized Milk Thistle extracts to ensure high
concentrations of the active ingredients.
Some manufacturers claim that combining Milk Thistle with
phosphatidylcholine increases absorption.
Silybin has also been tested in animals for its ability to protect the
kidney from damage due to drugs such as the chemotherapeutic agent
Milk Thistle is also a Demulcent, meaning that it soothes and moistens
the mucus membranes, kidney and bladder irritations and inflammations.
Role of Silymarin in Diabetes:
Improved Liver function leads to improved Diabetes Control
The liver is the first and most important tissue involved with insulin
In secondary diabetes due to liver damage, insulin resistance in
particularly pronounced. The reduction in lipid peroxidation produced by
silymarin can lead to improved metabolic.
Silymarin and HIV:
The seeds of the milk thistle plant are commonly used to protect the
liver from damage caused by hepatitis viruses as well as alcohol and
substances. Compounds found in milk thistle -- Silybin, silymarin -- act
as antioxidants and also stimulate the repair of the liver.
silymarin may inhibit hepatic synthesis of cholesterol and reduce blood
lipids, as shown in vitro, animal studies, and human trials.