The 5 Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is a purple thistle flower that originated in the Mediterranean, it is now naturalized in North America and is grown throughout the world.  It’s seeds are used for herbal preparations and it’s key active ingredient is silymarin.

Milk Thistle has been used for 1000’s of years as an extreme liver protector and for various liver conditions

1. Liver Protection

Several studies have been done showing that milk thistle is such an effective liver protector that if milk thistle was taken before or within 48 hours of the consumption of death cap mushrooms, which are normally fatal, the milk thistle gives nearly a 100% protection against the poison.  (2, 3)

Studies have shown improvements in liver function in people with liver diseases who have taken a milk thistle supplement, suggesting it could help reduce liver inflammation and liver damage. (4, 5, 6)

However, the results from studies have been mixed, and not all have found milk thistle extract to have a beneficial effect on liver disease.

It’s regularly used as a complementary therapy by people who have liver damage. Until more research is done, milk thistle is not recommended as the primary treatment for liver problems. (7)

2. Promotes Lactation

A study showed that milk thistle may increase milk production in nursing mothers. (89, 10)

3. Promotes skin health

Milk Thistle may be taken internally and externally to promote skin health.

Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties milk thistle has been shown in studies to help improve inflammatory skin conditions and have anti-aging effects on skin. (11, 12, 13)

It can also be helpful with conditions like acne. One study on people with acne saw a found 53% decrease in acne lesions when taking silymarin daily for 8 weeks. (14)

4. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and May Help People with Diabetes

Several recent studies have shown milk thistle, and its active constituent, silymarin, to be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Milk thistle may be used as a complementary therapy for those with type 2 diabetes. A study showed that silymarin helped to decrease blood sugar in insulin-resistant patients. (15)

It has also been shown that people consistently taking silymarin experienced a significant improvement in their fasting glucose and insulin levels. (16, 17)

Additionally, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle may also help to prevent the progression of diabetic complications like kidney disease. (18)

5. Lowers Cholesterol

Studies suggest that milk thistle may help to lower cholesterol levels.    

When taken, silymarin (active ingredient of milk thistle) can have a positive effect on total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, compared to levels before taking milk thistle. (19)

Milk thistle is an herb with a long history of use and current studies are promising for finding and documenting other health benefits of milk thistle.


Herbal Roots Milk Thistle is one of the only milk thistle products on the market that contains absolutely no fillers.  Our Milk Thistle extract has 80% standardized silymarin. 

If you have more questions about milk thistle you can visit our FAQ page.

* Statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.