Here’s a quick look at the active compounds in milk thistle. You may be surprised by how many there are. But, it is not unusual for a plant extract to be accompanied by so many benefits and compounds in it. The active components of this plant are called silymarins. Silibinin is the term sometimes used by researchers. It is a complex compound that is partly flavonoid and partly lignans.
Flavonoids are best known for their antioxidant activity. Collectively, they are sometimes referred to as vitamin P, but they include a wide range of micronutrients, such as quercetin, rutin, catechins, hesperidin and resveratrol. They are responsible for the plants flavor and partially responsible for the color.
Lignans are antioxidants, too. They belong to a group called phytoestrogens, literally plant estrogens. Research indicates that phytoestrogens are beneficial for reducing menopausal symptoms.
Helping to correct hormonal imbalances is one of the milk thistle uses. For a woman going through menopause, that could mean a reduction in symptoms ranging from hot flashes to constipation. For someone suffering from PMS, it could mean improved mood throughout the month. There is also reason to believe that phytoestrogens may help protect against the increased risk of heart disease that is found in post-menopausal women.
Phytoestrogens and flavonoids may be beneficial for the skin’s health and appearance for some reasons. The causes of wrinkles and an aged appearance include decreased collagen production and free radical damage. Antioxidants and other nutrients have been shown to stimulate collagen production and repair free radical damage. In post-menopausal female alopecia or hair loss, decreased estrogen production is believed to play a role. Increased phytoestrogen intake may help to prevent or even reverse the hair loss.
Flavonoids have been the subject of numerous studies because they have the ability to modify the body’s reactions to allergens, viruses and carcinogens. This expands the milk thistle uses to include anti-allergen, anti-viral and anti-cancer.
It is hoped that increased intake of dietary flavonoids will reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and cancer. So, we may feel better for life and look better, too, if only we eat a few more plant foods. But, to be honest, it is not always possible to get much of the active flavonoids or lignans by eating the natural foodstuff. That’s why we have dietary supplements. They don’t take the place of a healthy diet. They complement it and provide an added bit of insurance.
The best known active compounds in milk thistle uses are to protect the liver from toxins. The seeds have been used as a liver tonic for centuries. The ability to extract the active components and concentrate them has made them even more beneficial. The seeds are tiny. So, you wouldn’t get much silymarin from one or two little seeds. All of the benefits mentioned here are dependent upon the quality of the supplement. If the manufacturer makes every effort to provide the highest quality, then you should see the benefits.
The benefits of milk thistle are believed to be due to the Silymarin that it contains. Silymarin is a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity. The value of natural anti-inflammatories cannot be overstated