Milk Thistle has been used in the treatment of liver diseases including liver cancer for years. It heals the liver by lowering enzyme levels and assisting the liver in its process of detoxifying the body. Herbalists and Chinese Physicians have prescribed milk thistle for all types of liver disorders including cirrhosis, inflammation, high liver enzymes, jaundice, hardening of the liver, hepatitis and liver cancer. Herbalists recommend milk thistle for any type of cancer as it is vital in aiding detoxification of the blood.
According to a recent report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, scientists have now demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of silibinin, a major biologically active compound of milk thistle. Being widely used as a folk remedy for liver diseases, milk thistle is safe and well-tolerated, and it protects the liver from drug or alcohol-related injury. Silibinin is highly purified from milk thistle, with a defined chemical structure and molecular weight (C25H22O10, MW: 482.44).
The study was carried out by Dr. Ke-Qin Hu and his research team at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hu is a well-experienced research scientist and physician in the field of hepatology. He has published over 70 scientific articles in various medical professional journals. Many of his scientific research publications are focused on viral hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, all of which have significantly contributed to our better understanding of common liver diseases.
Dr. Hu and his colleagues' discovery of silibilin's anti-liver cancer effects was recently published.*
The researchers found that silibilin can significantly reduce the growth of several human hepatoma cell lines. In addition, they demonstrated that silibinin mediates anti-liver cancer effects by:
1. reduced cancer cell proliferation and cell cycle progression;
2. enhanced programmed death of cancer cells; and
3. altered chromatin structure of the cancer cells.
Their research results indicate that silibinin can be used to prevent the development of liver cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide. The results have also opened our minds to the possibility of testing other herbal supplements for possible treatment of human cancers.
Milk Thistle From an Herbal Perspective
Milk thistle has been observed in the reversal in symptoms of both acute and chronic liver problems. There is significant antioxidant and free radical scavenger action properties in milk thistle.
Milk thistle is beneficial for the liver in both protecting and regenerating it and is one of the best examples of preventative medicine that we have today as it not only protects each cell of the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, skin, brain and other tissues from incoming toxins, but at the same time encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, drugs, medications, mercury and heavy metals, pesticides, anesthesia, and even the most poisonous of mushrooms, the Amanita or Death-cap mushroom.
Additional Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle accelerates protein synthesis by the liver cells. It stimulates the liver to produce SOD, a potent free radical scavenger. It prevents depletion of glutathione in the liver.
Researchers have shown that milk thistle stimulates the synthesis of RNA (an important molecule that helps carry out and control protein synthesis)
Milk thistle protects the kidneys and is beneficial to those with skin problems like psoriasis.
Milk thistle blocks allergic and inflammatory reactions.
Milk thistle in mucilaginous and increases immune response, eradicates infection and soothes inflamed tissue.
Milk thistle has been found to maintain the basic function of the liver, thereby keeping the blood vascular system clean, which has an overall effect of maintaining health in the entire body.
This is an excellent herb for anyone who is under stress, uses alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription medications, or lives in today's modern times of pesticides, environmental toxins, and pollution.
*Journal reference: Lah JJ, Cui W, Hu KQ. Effects and mechanisms of silibinin on human hepatoma cell lines. World J Gastroenterol 2007; 13(40): 5299-5305
The Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason: N.D. Page 146