Originally the milk thistle comes from the warm countries around the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. But it also grows in sunny and nutrient-rich places. The plant is recognizable by the white marbled leaves, which are provided with small thorns all around. In old herbal books, the use of a thistle infusion to stimulate the flow of milk is used, but also against puncture in the body, recommended for bleeding, convulsions or flying heat. Today, the milk thistle owes its use as a gentle liver therapeutic drug to Rademacher, a country doctor who recognized its significance in 1848. He also realized that the active substances are directly under the shell of the seed-like fruit.
The liver as a detoxifying organ
In addition to the production of bile, our liver has to cope with the entire digestive metabolism and a multitude of "detoxification reactions". Alcohol, environmental pollutants, food additives and medicines are absorbed and broken down by her. This creates aggressive, so-called free radicals that attack the cell walls of the organ.
If the liver becomes permanently overloaded, natural cell renewal can not keep up. The liver is fatigued and can not fulfill its tasks. Sometimes this process is also accompanied by inflammation. At the end of the development is the liver cirrhosis, in which more and more functional cells are replaced by scarred connective tissue.
Not only toxins, also rich and fatty food or certain pathogens can cause the liver. Unfortunately, for a long time there are no conspicuous symptoms or pains that could warn the affected person at an early stage. Anyone who thinks that their liver could be at risk should therefore consult a doctor in good time.
Active ingredients of milk thistle
From the fruits of the milk thistle an extract can be obtained, which can prevent liver damage and help to regenerate an attacked liver. Responsible for the protective effect is a complex of four different flavonolignans, which is called in accordance with the scientific name of the milk thistle "Silybum marianum" silymarin.
Studies show that silymarin captures free radicals that are produced during detoxification in the liver, thereby preventing the destruction of cell walls. It also promotes the regeneration of liver tissue.
Use and side effects of milk thistle
Physicians use milk thistle preparations for the supplementary treatment of chronic inflammatory liver diseases. Especially for damages caused by alcohol and medications, the recovery process is gently supported. Because unlike chemical medicines, the plant extract does not burden the organ additionally.
For the therapy to be successful, however, the causes of the disease must always be combated. Occasionally milk thistle preparations have a slightly laxative effect, otherwise no side effects are known.
Treatment with milk thistle
Since silymarin is poorly soluble in water, the active ingredient barely changes into tea infusions. This is why Mareindistelextrakte are usually packed in dragees, capsules or tablets. A consistent and sufficiently high dosage ensure preparations from the pharmacy, since they contain a standardized content of active substances. Experts recommend about 200 to 400 milligrams of silymarin per day.
In homeopathy, the Mareindistel is used as "Carduus marianus" in liver and biliary disorders, hemorrhoids and varicose veins, but also in rheumatic complaints. Primary tincture and low potencies from D1 to D6 are mainly used.