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Milk thistle, with the botanical name Silybum marianum, is a spiky Mediterranean plant that is used by herbalists to treat liver disorders and repair and regenerate liver cells in both humans and animals. Other milk thistle benefits include countering both mushroom and lead poisoning, battling toxic side effects of drugs, lowering cholesterol, and acting as a cancer preventive. The milk thistle extract silymarin, a flavonoid compound found in the milk thistle seed, is used in concentrated amount to make liquids, powders, capsules and other milk thistle medications.
To determine the appropriate milk thistle dosage, it is necessary to take the health, body weight and age of the patient into account. A patient with a liver disorder and a higher weight, for instance, will need a different milk thistle dosage than that required by a person with lower weight and no liver problems. It is also essential to consider any other medications the patient may currently be taking. While herbs are usually deemed safe, they may interact with other medicines and produce unfortunate health reactions. Some of these include nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, body pains, skin rashes and respiratory problems.
There may also be a chance that silymarin, if taken in excessive amounts, may affect the liver adversely. It is therefore highly advisable to consult a qualified physician and determine if taking milk thistle seed extract is suitable for a particular health case and, if so, what the recommended dosage should be. Milk thistle tea, milk thistle detox and other milk thistle products are generally not recommended for very young children, pregnant women, or lactating women.
Similarly, a veterinarian should be consulted before trying out milk thistle for dogs. The right milk thistle dosage can prove effective in treating canine liver disorders and diseases related to liver problems, such as hepatitis, leptospirosis, and pancreatitis. Milk thistle detox can provide relief to dogs that have been treated for heartworm, have undergone chemotherapy for cancer, or have had parvovirus.
While milk thistle benefits have long been touted by herbalists, milk thistle extracts are still being studied in the laboratory. The results so far have not been precisely conclusive, either from lack of comparative studies of milk thistle dosage under specific conditions, or due to contradictory findings in similar cases. The research continues and may better define the effectiveness of milk thistle in the future.
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