St Mary's ThistleSt Mary’s Thistle, also known by its latin binominal name as Silybum marianum is an annual or biannual plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. The medicinal part used are the seeds.

St Mary’s Thistle is a highly regarded liver protectant that also restores the liver’s ability to detoxify harmful substances. The liver-protecting and liver-repairing functions are due to two main actions: antioxidant and protein-restoring activities. The antioxidant activity of silymarin, the active constituent, is ten times more powerful than vitamin E. Silymarin prevents toxic and foreign substances from penetrating liver cells by stabilising the outer membrane of liver cells. The active constituents displace toxins by binding to proteins and receptors on the cell membrane. Silymarin also stimulates protein synthesis so that new liver cells can grow and damaged liver cells can be replaced. Because silymarin acts mainly on the liver and kidneys, it is an effective antidote against poisonous substances that accumulate in the liver.

St Mary’s Thistle drastically improves liver dysfunction in patients with acute and chronic hepatitis A, B and C, chronic alcoholic liver disease and fatty liver caused by chemical toxin damage. Silymarin has been shown to lower the death rate of alcoholic patients over a two to four year period.  Other conditions it may be effective for are:

  • Liver and gallbladder disease, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, gallstones and fatty liver 
  • Liver damage due to indulgence in alcohol, drugs, fatty food and exposure to toxic chemicals 
  • Skin disease, including eczema and psoriasis 
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy

The recommended dosage is:

  • 30-60ml/week (1:1 liquid)
  • 30-60g/day tablet containing 2880 to 560mg flavanolignans (a key constituent)

St Mary’s Thistle is a safe and well-tolerated herb. It may be taken long-term and may reduce the toxic side-effects of many prescription drugs. It is only contraindicated in known allergy.


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