Information on Milk Thistle

Latin NameSilybum marianumphoto
Other NamesSt. Mary's thistle
Part UsedSeeds
Herb FormsTincture, standardized extract in tablets, bulk seed.
AffectsDigestive system, Liver
CautionsContraindicated for people with liver cancer, and other cancers because of its cell-proliferant qualities.
Botanical InfoA tall stout, spiny thistle with bright purple flowering heads. The glossy leaves are covered with wavy milky bands, thus the name milk thistle. An Aster family member.
DescriptionKnown for its excellent liver-protectant properties, milk thistle has proven effective in scientific studies for hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice. This herb is used to protect the liver from toxins and drugs, such as alcohol, aspirin, acetominophen, and pharmaceutical drugs. It enhances liver regeneration after exposure to heavy metals, radiation, or toxic chemicals. Milk thistle stimulates the growth of new liver cells, builds liver health, and is a strong antioxidant.
The ground seeds can be sprinkled on food; besides the liver-protective compounds (called silymarin), they also contain a substantial quantity of essential fatty acids, starch, and protein. The young greens are among the most tasty of all wild foods, after the spiny leaf margins are removed with a scissors.

Milk Thistle has a taste of BITTER, SWEET and a temperature of COOL.


Tincture2-4 droppersful 2-3 x daily
Extract1-2 capsules or tablets 2-3 x daily

Ailments Treated by Milk Thistle

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Chemotherapy side effectsliver protectanttablet, tincture
Cirrhosisliver protectanttincture, tablet
Deafness, slightherbal antioxidanttablet, tincture
Eczemaliver protectanttincture, tablet
Eyes, to strengthenliver tonictablet, tincture
Hangoverprotect the livertincture, tablet
Hepatitis, with jaundiceliver protectanttincture, tablet
Liver, enlargementliver tonic and protectanttincture, tablet
Liver, protectantliver tonic and protectanttincture, tablet
Jaundiceliver protector, rebuilderstandardized extract, tincture
Poisoningliver protectanttincture, tablet
Protectivesliver protectant, antioxidanttincture, tablet
Psoriasis, acuteliver regulatortincture, tablet
Radiation side effectsliver protectanttincture, tablet
Spleen, enlargedliver and spleen protectanttincture, tablet
Spleen tonicliver and spleen protectanttincture, tablet
Vitiligoliver protectant, tonictablet, tincture, capsule


McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Weiss, R. 1988. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, England: Beaconsfield Publishers.
Wren, R.C. 1988. Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs. Essex: C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd.
Harper-Shove, F. 1952. Prescriber and Clinical Repertory of Medicinal Herbs. Rustington, England: Health Science Press.