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What Is It: Milk Thistle

January 2, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 5 Comments

Milk thistle has long been one of my favorite ingredients. I even included it in my Truth Vitality Treatment Gel. For a while, I felt like a bit of an outlyer, but recently it has been showing up as an anti-aging ingredient. So what is it about this lovely member of the daisy family that packs so much power?

Traditional milk thistle extract is made from the seeds, and consists of about 80% silymarin (a flavonolignan complex) and 20% fatty acids, including linoleic acid, known to help maintain healthy cell membranes and control cellular metabolism. The powerhouse of milk thistle extract is silymarin, an antioxidant that protects against cell damage, and its most active compound, silybin. Silymarin and silybin may protect the body from chemicals by blocking toxins from entering the cell or by moving toxins out of the cell before damage begins. They can strengthen cell walls, stimulate enzymes that make toxins less harmful to the body, as well as block free radicals - responsible for signs of aging - from attacking cells, according to the National Cancer Institute. Much of the research done on this antioxidant has been focused on the liver, where milk thistle has built its reputation as a powerful healer.

And milk thistle can do wonders for the skin as well. It is prescribed as an acne treatment and it is said to be helpful for rosacea. 
In a double-blind study done on patients suffering from Stage I–III rosacea, patients were treated for one month with a topical cream containing silymarin, the powerhouse antioxidant component in Milk Thistle. A significant improvement in skin redness, papules, itching, hydration, and skin color occurred.

In another study focusing on UV-induced Oxidative Stress, "Silymarin inhibited UV-induced oxidative stress in both epidermal and dermal cells." Its ability to block free radicals within the body can apparently also translate into topical skin creams as well, shielding the skin from UVB damage.

There are very few negative side effects to taking milk thistle as an oral supplement, although studies have shown that some patients have seen a laxative effect or suffered nausea, heartburn, or a mild upset stomach. Most milk thistle supplements are measured by how much silybin they contain. Special forms of silybin made to be easily absorbed and used by the body are sold under the names Legalon, Silipide, and Siliphos. It can also be marketed as Holy Thistle, Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle, St. Mary Thistle, Our Lady's Thistle, Wild Artichoke, Mariendistel (in German products), and Chardon-Marie (in French products).

Ultimately, it appears that milk thistle can work from the inside out, the outside in, and is a safe herbal supplement and product ingredient that's full of a powerful antioxidant. It also comes with a bonus benefit: it is a helpful cure for hangovers, flushing out liver toxins after one too many glasses of wine!

Recommended Products Containing Milk Thistle:
Truth Vitality Treatment GelKERACELL Firming & Sculpting Body Lotion Expurtise Effective Anti-Aging Ultra Purifying Cleanser Medik8 Redness Corrector Advanced Neutralising Cream

  • June 25, 2016

    by Dr. Asif Khan

    It ll have to be dispensed by a pharmacist at pharmacy o

  • December 22, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Peggy, milk thistle is relatively rare in face creams. We have a few though: <a href="" rel="nofollow">Perfecting Day Lotion</a>,<a href="" rel="nofollow"> Nutra-Lift Rejuvanating A</a>, and <a href="" rel="nofollow">KaplanMD Perfecting Serum</a>

  • December 21, 2010

    by Peggy

    I looking for a facial cream with Milk thistle in it. And where I can find it. Thank you.

  • June 16, 2009

    by marta

    You can buy it at <a href="" rel="nofollow">New Directions Aromatics</a>

  • June 15, 2009

    by Nhan

    Oooh Where can I find this product?

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