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Liver Detox Supplement: Milk Thistle

Liver Detox Supplement: Milk Thistle
From Forbes HEALTH    Aug 2,2023

Not only is the liver the largest digestive gland in the body, it’s also an essential organ that plays a central role in health. In fact, the liver is needed to help flush out toxins and support immune function, metabolism, digestion and more. Many popular supplements claim to help enhance the liver’s ability to detoxify the body—but does scientific evidence support such claims, and are these products even safe?

In this article, we take a look at the purported benefits of liver detox supplements, along with the potential risks and safety concerns. Plus, we explore a few other expert-recommended ingredients that may be beneficial for maintaining liver health.

“The liver is a remarkable organ that naturally detoxifies the body by filtering toxins and metabolizing substances,” says Sam Schleiger, a Milwaukee-based functional medicine dietitian. “Naturally, the liver performs this function efficiently without the need for additional supplements.”

While Schleiger points out that supplements may not be necessary for maintaining a healthy liver, she adds that they might offer some benefits. “Supporting the liver through a quality diet and specific supplements has been shown to support liver health,” says Schleiger. “Common liver detoxification supportive supplements contain ingredients that have potential health benefits, such as milk thistle, turmeric or artichoke extract.”

“Milk thistle, specifically its active compound called silymarin, is one of the most well-known supplements for liver health,” says Schleiger. She notes that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may support the function of the liver.

In fact, Schleiger says, milk thistle is sometimes used as a complementary treatment for liver conditions like cirrhosis and hepatitis. According to one review of eight studies, silymarin (derived from milk thistle) improved liver enzyme levels effectively in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The function of milk thistle, scientifically known as Silybum marianum, is primarily as a herbal supplement that is believed to support liver health. Milk thistle contains a compound called silymarin, which acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It is believed to help protect liver cells from damage caused by toxins, such as alcohol, pollutants, and certain medications. Milk thistle has been traditionally used to treat liver diseases, such as liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease. 

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