Milk thistle is a flower in the Aster family. A native of the Mediterranean regions of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, this plant, particularly its seeds and roots, has been used medicinally for over 2000 years.
Milk thistle is one of very few traditionally used herbs that has been widely accepted by conventional science to have significant medicinal value. It has been called “milk thistle” because of a feature of the leaves, which are prominently splashed with white spots.
Three important chemicals have been isolated from the milk thistle: silychristine, silydianin, silybin. The mixture of these three substances is called Silymarin. Silymarin demonstrates a high antioxidizing protective effect with regard to liver cells (hepatoprotective drugs). Silymarin improves the function of the liver, supports the formation and regeneration of liver cells and protects new liver cells.
Liver disease is more common in pets than you might expect. Certain breeds of dogs (such as Labrador Retrievers, Dalmatians and Great Danes) are more susceptible to liver disease due to a genetic difficulty excreting copper. Fortunately, research suggests that milk thistle extract not only prevents damage to the liver, but also helps repair it.
Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us from chemicals in our bodies called free radicals. Exposure to environmental toxins can increase free radicals in the body, which can do a lot of damage to our cells. This is called oxidation and can eventually lead to cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Milk thistle protects the liver against harmful oxidation.
Researchers have found that milk thistle can actually prevent or reduce medication induced liver damage. If you have been giving your pet medication and are concerned about the aftermath of chemicals residing in the body, milk thistle will help flush those out.
Lyophilized extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum Gaertner, seeds), Glycerin, Water, Gamma-cyclodextrins, and Alpha-cyclodextrins.
Milk thistle not only helps treat and prevent liver disease. Below is a list of treatment claims linked to the plant:
If there has been kidney damage to your pet because of an infection milk thistle has been shown to greatly decrease the amount of time it takes your pet to heal.
Although rare in cats, pancreatitis is very common in dogs. Milk thistle can be given to your dog and cat to help alleviate the symptoms.
Milk thistle has been shown to decrease the effects of cancer in a pet’s body. While there haven’t been many studies done, there have been enough that it has shown improvement and helps protect against the potential for cancer in your pet.
Pets suffering from diabetes that are given milk thistle at least once per week have been shown to not have to have nearly the amount of insulin that they would have had to take otherwise.
Clearly, milk thistle has an array of positive effects throughout the body.
However, milk thistle should not be used as a preventative, or a “just in case”; rather, it should be used as a means of cleansing the liver after exposure to toxins (i.e. drugs, vaccines, chemicals, etc.) or as a treatment to liver damage. Milk thistle stimulates the growth of new liver cells in order to replace those that are dead or dying, and helps protect against toxins which could cause further damage.