Milk thistle.

Botanical name: 

Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 22:19:34 MDT
From: Michael Moore <hrbmoore.RT66.COM>
Subject: Re: Milk Thistle

>I would like to learn more about this herb. Can someone recommend a good reference on it? I am interested in its properties for healing the liver after chemical exposure. Thanks.

Milk Thistle, or Silybum marianum, has widespread international use as a hepatoprotectant. Although the current uses are the result of extensive European phytopharmaceutical and Natprod studies, the previous medical uses are the result of American Eclectic practices, where it was often referred to by the older botanical names of Cirsium marianum and even Cnicus marianus. As a rather unique thistle, it has been bounced around between various composite genera over the last century. The Europharmaceutical uses revolve around the crude and indistinct compounds labeled Silymarins...the whole seed works fine, however.

In the U.S., as usual, it has no "recognized" functions, although many poison control centers know of its peculiar value in Amanita mushroom poisonings (Fly Agaric and Death's Head Agaric). Instead of "antidoting" the neuro-muscarinic (or cholinergic/parasympathetic) effects, it protects the liver's hepatocytes from the mushroom alkaloids...far more important, since you can oppose the neurologic effects of Amanita fairly easily, but you can't protect against permanent liver damage any other way than with Milk Thistle (to my knowledge, at least).

My best experience with using the seeds is in (A) the detox and regeneration treatment of alcoholics, (B) workers with solvents that have a low threshold of alcohol inebriation accompanying recent skin disorders or previously unknown food reactions, and (C) for CFS, EBV, CMV and HIV folks that have gone through many medical procedures without help and with iatrogenic symptoms to add to the slow virus-candidiasis-immune depression they started with.

Since half of the American cases of parkinsonism are now known to occur in individuals with extended contact with agriculture chemicals, and the large amount of, as yet, circumstantial evidence implicating zeno-estrogens (some of the long-term byproducts of agricultural and industrial chemicals) in a shitload of the Marching Moron degeneracy diseases already on the heavy rise in the First, Second, Third and Green Worlds, Milk Thistle seeds (the root as well, although not marketed as yet) would seem like an appropriate preventative.

NOTE THIS: the indiscriminate use of Milk Thistle by those without need (like my old "swinger" friends in the 70s in L.A, who used to take daily tetracycline to PREVENT getting diseases from their Menage a (fill in number)s and only ruined their livers) can interfere with (A) kupfer cell metabolism, (B) the normal balance of red cell breakdown (hemolysis) and production (hemopoesis), and (C) increase the liver's catabolic (breakdown) energy and decrease it's anabolic (buildup) functions. Therefore, use it if you seem to be at risk through lifestyle, genetic or environmental factors, otherwise simply be AWARE, in case circumstances change.

We have no guidelines to go on here, since such factors are seldom seriously considered in medicine (on either side of the Atlantic), where arriving at the disease through differential diagnosis is almost the whole game, and treatment derives from the legal (and insured) little list of meds and procedures.

You can find Silybum marianum in some abundance growing in coastal California, Arizona agricultural areas and (I am told) from the Carolinas down through Florida. Gather the seeded heads in May-July, pull out the barbs from your skin, mash them around in a burlap bag, pull out the barbs from your feet, sort through (garble) the seeds, pull out BOTH the barbs and the hairs, then order some already-cleaned seeds wholesale. They are being grown organically in Israel and (I believe) Turkey.

There is a monograph on Milk Thistle in my book MEDICINAL PLANTS OF THE DESERT AND CANYON WEST, Museum of New Mexico Press, 1989; Cristopher Hobbs has written a rich little pamphlet on the herb, and the American Botanical Council in Boulder also has a pamphlet that reflects the current European dogm.. (oops) ...usage.

This the main info I pulled from my database:

Plant Part............ Seeds
Capsules........... #00
Dosage........... 2 at a time, to 3X a day
(The best and cheapest media...refrigerate after grinding or capping to slow down seed oxidation)
Fluidextract....... [1:1, 60% alcohol]
Dosage........... 20-40 drops to 5X a day
Strong Tincture.... [1:3, 70% alcohol]
Dosage........... ½ to 1 teaspoon, to 4X a day


THE remedy for early stages of chronic liver problems; rehabilitation from chronic alcoholism and/or solvent contact, protecting the hepatocytes from overt damage from chemicals, fatty degeneration, acute and chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis - alcoholic; Laennec's.
Hepatitis - general strengthening.
Thin, subanemic blood.
Blood serum levels: bilirubinemia without active hepatitis.
Blood serum levels: SGOT, SGPT elevations with elevated bilirubin, no active hepatitis.