Of all the dietary supplements that are supposed to help you reverse your fatty liver disease, Milk Thistle is probably the one that pops up the most often, so you are probably wondering if you should indeed take some Milk Thistle supplements or simply ignore them and focus on a healthy diet (check out my article about the best fatty liver diet).
Before we try to answer this question and see if Milk Thistle is indeed good for those suffering of NAFLD, let’s see what is Milk Thistle! Well, it is plant scientifically known as Silybum marianum, of the Asteraceaefamily. It has red to purple flowers and shiny pale green leaves with white veins and has been used for thousands of years to help improve the functions of the liver or cleanse it.
I know that there are people out there who have no faith in plant-based medicines, but in this case, you might want to change your mind. Except for the fact that it has been used for over 2,000 years as a natural remedy for liver diseases, recent studies have shown that it might indeed have beneficial effects on the liver. The milk thistle extract is usually prescribed to treat mushroom poisoning, alcoholic cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, drug and alcohol-induced liver damage, acute viral hepatitis as well as fatty liver and many doctors consider it the most important supplement when it comes to maintaining a healthy liver.
Many recent studies (the United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report over 400) have shown that Milk Thistle indeed has beneficial effects upon the liver, with its active ingredient Silibinin (silybin) having hepatoprotective (antihepatotoxic) properties that protect liver cells against toxins. You can check out the Wikipedia article on Milk Thistle to find out more about it.
What is my take on Milk Thistle and fatty liver
Usually, I am not that type of person that believes in natural remedies or herbal remedies, but whenever they are backed up by scientific research and years of experience, I tend to be a bit more receptive. Also, one of the facts that made me at least give it a try is that taking Milk Thistle supplements rarely has any averse effects. So, at worst, you get nothing out of this. But if indeed the regenerative effects on the damaged liver cells are real and it does help your liver a lot, as it is suggested, then you are up for a major win.
So, even though I can’t say that I am 100% sure that Milk Thistle does help your liver – as there are also numerous studies claiming that it’s impossible to say that it does more than Placebo – I have decided to take these supplements. As long as there’s no possible harm to be done, I am ready to try anything.
When deciding what type of Milk Thistle supplement to take for your Fatty Liver, you should always talk to your doctor. When it comes to me, my doctor has recommended a high dose (because apparently the active ingredient silybin is not easily absorbed by the human body) of gel pills (1,000 mg). I am taking one pill in the morning, daily, for three months in a row. Then I get a break of one month, and resume the treatment for three more months. So far, I am felling much better than I did before (I have started talking Milk Thistle supplements 2 and a half months ago), but this might also be caused by my diet and lifestyle changes. Or maybe it’s a mix of them all, and personally I am happy that I feel better.
Milk Thistle supplements are available for relatively low prices and I would recommend two in case you want to get them: the Spring Valley Milk Thistle (which is perfect because it has exactly 90 pills, or the supply for my three months) or Nature’s Bounty Milk Thistle which has less of the active ingredient. Personally, I see no reason why not go for the full benefits of the 1,000 mg one!