Beyond the Liver: Milk Thistle’s 4 Extra Benefits
Those who have a chronic liver ailment, such as Hepatitis C, likely know that milk thistle is the number one recommended supplement to support their liver. However, many fail to recognize that milk thistle’s value to someone with Hepatitis C goes far beyond this herb’s liver protective characteristics. Besides the liver, learn about the other parts of the body that milk thistle aids that can be a bonus for anyone battling the Hepatitis C virus.
Milk thistle has been revered for its liver health benefits for centuries. Silymarin, the active compound extracted from milk thistle seeds, is a potent antioxidant that:
- Strengthens the external membrane of liver cell walls, which prevents toxins from causing damage.
- Scavenges free radicals to minimize liver cell injury and inflammation.
- Promotes liver cell regeneration to recover from damage and scarring.
These three liver-related reasons are enough motivation for someone with chronic Hepatitis C to take milk thistle, but they are not exclusive. The following four additional areas of the body benefit from milk thistle supplementation and can be helpful when battling Hepatitis C infection.
- Brain – Research shows that milk thistle can help protect the nervous system, a benefit for those with advanced Hepatitis C that have or are at risk for hepatic encephalitis (HE). HE is a brain disorder caused by excessive toxins in the bloodstream due to the liver’s inability to detoxify the blood. Thus, milk thistle may help protect against the forgetfulness, confusion, poor concentration and irritability typical of hepatic encephalitis.
- Skin – Technically, the body’s largest organ is the skin – which appears to benefit from the free radical neutralization properties of silymarin. Because those with advanced Hepatitis C frequently suffer from skin itching due to a buildup of toxins in the blood, milk thistle’s ability to defend against inflammation from free radical oxidation in the skin could be particularly soothing.
- Blood Pressure – If Hepatitis C causes a significant amount of liver scarring, portal hypertension can develop. Blockage of the blood vessels due to liver damage inhibits blood flow through the liver and causes high pressure (portal hypertension), which can have a range of severe consequences. Silymarin has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, which reduces blood pressure – a welcome bonus for those with portal hypertension.
- Blood Sugar – Many studies have linked Hepatitis C to the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Thus, managing blood sugar levels is of high importance to anyone with Hepatitis C. According to the National Institute of Health, research demonstrates that silymarin helps with glycemic control. The effects of milk thistle’s antioxidants are reported to help decrease blood sugar levels in insulin-resistant patients.
Silymarin is a dynamic extract, far surpassing a unilateral health benefit. These two all-natural formulas that include silymarin provide comprehensive support for these common Hepatitis C concerns:
- Toxin Accumulation – When liver function declines, toxins can build up in the blood – increasing the risk of neurological impairment and skin itching. Natural Wellness’ Liver Support & Detox is a comprehensive liver support formula (including milk thistle) that helps keep the blood free of toxicity.
- Healthy Blood – Studies show that those with chronic liver disease often develop portal hypertension and/or insulin resistance. Natural Wellness’ UltraNourish is a superfood shake (including milk thistle) that supports liver health and promotes healthy blood sugar levels and healthy blood cholesterol levels.
If you have Hepatitis C, supplementing with milk thistle is likely doing more for you than just protecting and supporting your liver. Whether the effects are direct or indirect, milk thistle provides benefits to the brain, skin and blood composition – as well as the liver – improving justification for including silymarin in your Hepatitis C wellness plan.
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http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-portal, What is Portal Hypertension, Retrieved December 13, 2015, WebMD, LLC, 2015.
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