When you crush the leaves of the milk thistle plant, you get a milky white fluid oozing out, giving the plant its name!
Milk thistle is a biennial or annual plant, which belongs to the Asteraceae family. Originally found in Southern Europe and Asia, now it grows across the world. It has other common names. Some of them are silybum marianum, cardus marianus, marian thistle, mediterranean milk thistle, Scotch thistle, and Saint Mary’s thistle, etc. It is also known as Blessed Milk Thistle.
The milk thistle plant has red to purple colored flowers and glossy pale green colored leaves. The leaves are hairless and oblonged to lanceolate. The leaves also have white veins and spiny edges. The plant grows to 30 to 200 cms in height. It has a conical shape with a soft and grooved stem.
The ripe seeds of the plant contain many medicinal properties. According to various studies, milk thistle can help individuals suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis. It can also protect the liver of people undergoing anticancer treatments. It also has tumor combating properties. It protects the body from cardiovascular diseases. Despite all these benefits, milk thistle comes with a warning tag!
10 Side Effects of Milk Thistle:
Here are some of the side effects of consuming milk thistle:
1. Not Advisable For People With Liver Disorders:
According to various studies, milk thistle affects those suffering from liver disorders. Such individuals experience nausea, laxative effect, stomach upset and heartburn. Higher doses of milk thistle might also cause mild allergic reactions in some people.
2. Stomach Problems:
Milk thistle can cause diarrhea in some cases. It can also cause stomach upset frequently. It might cause bloating, lack of appetite, heartburn, nausea, and flatulence.
3. Not Suitable For Some Women:
Some women should avoid consuming milk thistle, because it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. Women with fibroid tumors, breast, ovarian or uterine cancer should also avoid consuming it.
4. Allergic Reactions:
Individuals with ragweed allergy should avoid taking milk thistle. It might also cause reactions on individuals sensitive to compositae plant family. This family includes members, such as daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds and others. It might rashes and hives.
5. Interacts With Estrogen:
Milk thistle may decrease hormones in the body. Consuming milk thistle along with estrogen decreases the efficiency of the estrogen pills. Silymarin, a chemical present in milk thistle breaks down the estrogen in the body.
6. Interacts With Cholesterol Medicine:
Milk thistle changes the way cholesterol medicine works in the body. It might either lower or increase the effects of such medications. Medications, such as fluvastatin, lovastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin and pravastatin, are used for lowering the cholesterol level. The medicines interact with milk thistle and lose their efficacy.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar Level:
Milk thistle might lower blood sugar levels in the body. People with high blood sugar level or diabetes should consume milk thistle to get effective results.
8. Breastfeeding And Pregnancy:
There is not enough evidence to prove the effect of milk thistle on pregnant and breastfeeding women. So, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid the use of milk thistle if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
9. Interactions With Drugs:
Interfering with some drugs, milk thistle leads to adverse reactions. It also reacts with the agents, which affect the liver, blood, skin, heart, stomach, and intestines.
Some people feel weak and lethargic on taking milk thistle. The other side effects of taking milk thistle are-decreased platelets count, giddiness, headache, sweating, tremor, and change in taste. It also causes vomiting in certain people.
Knowledge is power—it is certainly true when it comes to herbs and other natural ingredients. Now that you know how milk thistle might affect your health, you can decide if you want to still use it! So, make an informed decision, and enjoy the many benefits of milk thistle.
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