Silybum marianum is a relative of dandelions and Korean slugs.
The fruit of the seed-like plant has been used in folk remedies as a "liver elixir" for liver or gallbladder dysfunction.
Traditionally, people also use the fruits of milk leaves and roasted flowers in salads as a substitute for coffee.
Silymarin is a mixture of active ingredients, highly concentrated in the standard extract of milk thistle seeds.
The National Centre for Supplementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH) concluded that little is known about whether milk is effective in humans, as only a few well-designed clinical studies have been conducted.
Milk supplements are not approved by the FDA for medical use. Supplements often lack solid clinical studies. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them, but there is no guarantee that they are safe or effective. Talk to your doctor before supplementing.
Although silymarin has a long history of traditional liver detoxification and indigestion, its efficacy is still unknown.
It is said to improve liver health and detoxification. It is considered a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drug. The risk of short-term side effects is relatively low.
Poor bioavailability, bitter taste, few high-quality clinical trials, and long-term safety unknown.
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