Milk thistle is a flowering annual plant native to the Mediterranean, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. However, today the plant grows virtually throughout the world. Milk thistle features a long stem which can reach a height of 5 feet, and shiny green leaves which feature thorns and sharply pointed tips.
Its flowers range from pink to purple, and contain small hard fruits (resembling seeds) which are used medicinally.
The name "milk thistle" derives from two features of the leaves they are splashed with blotches of white color, and they contain a milky sap inside. The plant is sometimes known as holy thistle, lady's thistle, St. Mary thistle, silybum, and other names.
In the 16th century, milk thistle became popular as a food item, and almost all parts of it were eaten. The roots were boiled or eaten raw, and the young shoots (which appeared in the spring) were boiled and buttered. The spiny flower head was eaten like an artichoke, and the peeled stems were soaked overnight and stewed.
Even the prickly leaves were trimmed, boiled, and eaten like spinach or used raw on salads.
- The exceptional benefits of this concentrated herb are due to antioxidant properties which help to support health and well-being.
- Milk thistle helps maintain healthy liver function.
- Milk thistle supports the structure of the outer cell membrane of liver cells.
- Milk thistle contains a group of flavonoids collectively called silymarin, which helps maintain healthy liver function.
- Milk thistle contains beneficial flavonoids and antioxidants that may promote the action of nucleolar polymerase A for increased ribosomal protein synthesis. This helps support liver cell health.
- The active ingredients in milk thistle are flavonoids collectively called silymarin. The flavonoids are credited with helping maintain a healthy liver. Silymarin is believed to be responsible for milk thistle's antioxidant effect.
- In addition, milk thistle contains apigenin, silybonol, myristic, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and betaine hydrochloride.
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