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Silymarin:

Definition:
Silymarin structure Silymarin is an antioxidant flavonoid C25H22O10 consisting
of a 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.

Clinical study:
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 day),
group II: took psychotropic with placebo,
group III: took silymarin only (800 mg per day),
group IV: took placebo.

Results: Silymarinprovided 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 taking 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:
Silymarin has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to prevent or lessen damage to body cells that is caused by a chemical process called oxidation.
Silymarin as anti-inflammatory effects of help keep liver cells from swelling in response to injury.
Silymarin 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 anti-tumor activity.
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 antioxidant in the stomach and intestines, it may also have a role to play in treating inflammatory conditions such as colitis and ulcers. 

Silymarin (milk thistle) reverses liver cell damage, increases protein level ...... It destroys old red blood cells, produces lymphocytes and plasma cells.

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.


Kidneys:
Silybin has also been tested in animals for its ability to protect the kidney from damage due to drugs such as the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin.

Acne:
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 utilization.
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 other
substances. Compounds found in milk thistle -- Silybin, silymarin -- act as antioxidants and also stimulate the repair of the liver.

Others:
silymarin may inhibit hepatic synthesis of cholesterol and reduce blood lipids, as shown in vitro, animal studies, and human trials.

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