What are the Most Common Milk Thistle Effects?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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Milk thistle is used for a variety of purposes, primarily relating to its positive effects on the liver. While there are few definitive scientific studies proving the effects of milk thistle, this remedy has been well respected in the natural healing community for a long time. Milk thistle effects also include protection from toxins, cancer prevention, and lowering cholesterol. There are also several negative milk thistle effects that may be particularly severe in people with allergies to the plant.

Common milk thistle effects are primarily focused in the liver. Most of the time, people experience an overall improvement in liver function. Milk thistle is thought to repair liver cells that have been damaged and protect new cells from the substance causing the damage. This is an extremely useful effect for many different disorders, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, and mushroom poisoning.

More generally, milk thistle is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help with any number of conditions not related to the liver. Psoriasis, for instance, can be treated with milk thistle to relieve inflamed skin. This plant is also a strong antioxidant, which provides health benefits overall. A variety of lifetime disorders can be combated with antioxidants, although milk thistle is not the only plant capable of providing these benefits.


Milk thistle is also thought to help people heal from cancer. Some people claim that milk thistle stops cancer cells from reproducing and prevents blood from flowing to the tumors. There is need for significant additional medical research before these properties can be considered milk thistle effects.

One common property of this plant is its potential for use as a laxative. Some people hold that milk thistle improves the function of the digestive system and bowels more generally, balancing out systems that are in distress. Others believe that the plant is merely a mild laxative. It is possible that milk thistle promotes regularity and prevents both diarrhea and constipation. Some people consider the noticeable laxative effect of the plant a benefit, while others consider it an unfortunate side effect.

The most common side effects of this plant include headaches, itching, and indigestion. People who are allergic to the plant may experience more serious effects, such as anaphylactic shock. Frequently, various negative milk thistle effects cause problems involving blood sugar or estrogen levels. As this is a plant that is known to cause reactions with oral contraceptives and a variety of other medications, it is important to seek professional advice before taking any dosage of milk thistle.


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