Milk Thistle its Application on Human Diseases
From time immemorial, several herbs have been used for the treatment of various ailments of human body. Though most of these treatments have no scientific basis, expert opinions and traditions have dominated the justification of their use…
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They are mainly used for the treatment of various liver diseases (Mayoclinic, 2011). Milk thistle is known to protect the liver from the effects of several toxins like alcohol, acetaminophen and certain types of mushroom poisoning. It is also being used to protect against nephrotoxicity (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). This literature review evaluates and critically analyzes the uses of the herb, the constituents of the herb, various pharmacological actions of the active component, dosage recommendations, appropriate applications, prognosis and expected response to treatment with the herb. Summary of information about the herb’s use with critical analysis History pertaining to medicinal application Milk thistle is used widely for the treatment of several disorders. In Europe, the herb has been in use for medicinal purposes from the first century. Pliny the Elder has mentioned that the herb is useful in improving the flow of the bile. Milk thistle has been mentioned in Culpepper, Dioscorides and Jacobus wiritings (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). Various parts of the herb, like the flowers, leaves and roots have been part of European diets historically and the fruits were roasted and used for coffee substitution. In some parts of Europe, the leaves are a part of fresh salads and are substituted frequently for spinach (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). ...
The component that is active biologically is silymarin. Other ingredients of the seeds are silychristin, silybin and silidianin (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). Silymarin is present in all portions of the plant. However, it is more concentrated in the seeds and hence it is extracted from the seeds of the herb. The biological name for milk thistle is Silybum marianum and milk thistle is used interchangeably frequently with silymarin. Other common names of milk thistle are marian thistle, holy thistle, Our Lady's thistle, wild antichoke, etc. The herb belongs to the botanical family Compositae, also known as Asteraceae (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). The plant is a herb. It is tall and biennial. It is about 5-10 feet in height. It is hard and green and has some shiny leaves. The leaves have spiny edges with longitudinal veins that are white. The flower heads are solitary, reddish-purple with bracts that end in sharp spines. The fruits are small and hard. The herb is mainly grown in North America, Western Europe and South America (Murphy and Kemper, 2000). Uses Silymarin is mainly used for the treatment of chronic liver disease, including gall bladder diseases. Other than liver diseases, milk thistle has also been used on several other conditions. Traditionally, milk thistle has been used to treat a type of mushroom poisoning, the Amanita phalloides poisoning. But there is no evidence to support this aspect (Mayoclinic, 2011). Silymarin causes inhibition of the binding of the dangerous toxins from the mushroom to the hepatocytes, thus causing interruption in the enterohepatic circulation of the fatal toxins. But, it is not useful as the first line management of the poisoning. Hence, treatment with
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