Milk Thistle
Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.

Thistle (Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.)


Annual or biennial herb up to 150 cm tall. Strong stem, erect, little branched, hairy, bare or lightly covered with "spider" thread, formed 2 years. Rhizome leaves large, up to 80 cm long and 30 cm wide, elongated oval, strongly folded; the leaves of the stem are arranged alternately, leathery, shiny with a white pattern, yellow spines along the edge of the leaf and under the veins of the leaf. The flowers are crimson-violet or purple, collected in solitary ball-shaped inflorescences-baskets, which are protected by sharp inflorescence leaves. Flowers tubular, bisexual. Fruit - a white-spotted seed, wrinkled and up to 5 mm long. Blooms all summer. The fruits ripen in September-October.

Ripe dried fruits, as well as seeds and rhizomes are used for medicinal purposes. The seeds are collected in August-September, when the box dries. Harvest early in the morning before the flowers open, dry and store in breathable containers for 1 year. Roots are dug in autumn, washed, dried in the sun or in forced dryers at a temperature of 40-50C, stored in tightly sealed containers for no longer than 2 years.

The main active substances that are found in the fruits of the Milk Thistle are flavonoids and their derivatives (silybin, silicristin, silydianin, eriodictyol, etc.), vegetable fats (<32%), essential oil (0.08%), alkaloids, saponins, mucilages, organic substances, vitamin E, K, D, group B vitamins, biogenic amines (tyramine, histamine), macro and microelements, proteins, etc.

Medicinal significance

Preparations of the Milk Thistle strengthen the production and secretion of bile, strengthen the protective function of the liver against infections and various types of toxicosis. They produce antioxidant effects, stimulate the synthesis of structural proteins and phospholipids, stabilize liver cell membranes and accelerate their regeneration. The properties of the plant make it possible to use it to treat chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, cholecystitis, as well as chemical poisoning, it will also be useful in the case of diabetes, chronic diseases of the digestive system, and varicose veins.

All parts of the plant can be used for medicinal purposes, but more often the fruits and seeds are used, from which oil and flour are obtained, as well as infusions and decoctions can be prepared. The fruits of the Milk Thistle are included in mixtures that treat diseases of the liver and spleen.

The preparations of the Milk Thistle also have a diuretic, temperature-reducing, carminative effect, as well as a normalizing action of the digestive tract. The Milk Thistle oil is also used externally as a wound healing agent. A decoction of the roots is used to rinse the teeth, in case of toothache, urinary retention, diarrhea and cramps.

In folk medicine, the juice of the Milk Thistle, squeezed from its leaves, is used as a mild laxative, sweat, urine and bile expelling agent. A decoction of the roots is used to treat gastritis, diarrhea, radiculitis, convulsions, and urinary retention. The pulp or flour of the Milk Thistle seeds helps reduce the sugar content in the blood, cleans the blood and helps with varicose veins.

Not recommended for use

It is not advisable to use the preparations of the Milk Thistle in case of mental diseases, which are associated with disorders of the nervous system. Or in case of exacerbation of any chronic disease. Likewise, if there is an excessively high concentration of phosphorus and calcium in the body. The plant is also not used during pregnancy and lactation, and children under 3 years old are not treated with it.

Cosmetic significance

The milk thistle is used in cosmetics as an antioxidant, whitening, toning and skin invigorating ingredient. The plant is used in antiaging creams - it prevents the formation of wrinkles and pigmentation spots.

The extract of Milk Thistle has strong antioxidant properties, it activates increased collagen synthesis, and also helps to whiten the skin and rid it of pigmentation spots. The plant extract also has anti-inflammatory properties, increases skin tone and smoothes skin texture. These properties help fight against wrinkles on the face. Thanks to the real thorn, the skin is smoothed, protected from moisture loss - drying and cracking.

Phytocompounds such as silybin, silydianin, and silycristine provide the effectiveness of Milk Thistle. It has been scientifically determined that real milk thistle is able not only to prevent inflammation, but also to suppress carcinogenesis - the transformation of normal cells into malignant ones. One of the leading compounds, silymarin, has a weak estrogen-modulating effect and participates in the process of regulating the natural death of cells.

It is believed that the extract of Milk Thistle has such strong skin protection properties that it can prevent sunburn. The plant promotes additional nutrition for skin cells, moisturizes and gives the skin a youthful appearance, improves complexion, increases protective functions, elasticity, firmness, accelerates skin microcirculation and even smooths out small wrinkles.

The real horsetail is also a great helper in hair care. Oil obtained from the seeds of the plant is more often used for this purpose. These products will help moisturize the scalp without making it greasy. More than a hundred different valuable elements, vitamins and trace elements have been found in the seeds of the plant, among which silymarin is the most valuable. In addition, the seeds contain up to 30% vegetable fat. The use of pure seed oil has a nourishing, softening, anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating effect!

The real horse thistle has proven itself since ancient times with its versatile properties, its main feature is giving the skin youthfulness.

Most often, Milk Thistle cosmetics are used:

  • To care for mature or aging skin;
  • To care for the skin in case of acne and rosacea;
  • To stimulate skin regeneration after mechanical, thermal or UV damage.
  • Genuine marjoram oil or extract is useful for treating tired, dull skin as well as brittle and thin hair.
  • This plant is a promising agent to use in the treatment of melanoma!

The Milk Thistle does not cause side effects, except for cases of individual intolerance to it!