Silymarin Marianum

Silymarin marianum (milk thistle) has long been recommended as a liver cleanser. Indeed the evidence is fairly good that it may help even alcoholic cirrhosis. (J Hepatol. 1989, 9: 105-113). The results in a double-blind study:
the Silymarin treated patients outlived the placebo by 50%, significant at the 0.01% level.

More importantly, milk thistle has striking immune enhancement benefits. It increases lymphocytes, interferon gamma, interleukin (IL)-4, and IL-10 cytokines (Med Sci Monit. 2002, 8: BR439-443.)

It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer effects. It appears to be particularly helpful in preventing skin cancer and skin damage from ultraviolet light. (Int J Oncol. 2005, 26: 169-176. It inhibits proangiogenic factors from cancer cells, inhibits growth and leads to apoptotic death of cancer cells. (Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2004, 4: 1-11). It inhibits telomerase activity and secretion of prostate specific antigen in prostate cancer cells, even in the presence of the tumor growth enhancer, dihydrotestosterone. There are also tumor inhibition studies of breast, lung and colon cancer.

One of milk thistle's most intriguing benefits is reduction of lipid peroxidation (Bull Exp Biol Med. 2003, 136: 572-575.). It has significant ability to scavenge free radicals (J Ethnopharmacol. 2005, 97: 521-525).

And although milk thistle has been used mostly in liver disease and as a liver tonic, it has significant benefit for the pancreas. It strikingly improves the hyperglycemia of insulin resistance in diabetics with cirrhosis. (J Hepatology. 1997, 26: 871-879).

And, equally impressive is the antioxidant effect of Silymarin. Thus, it may benefit virtually all inflammatory diseases, including coronary artery disease. ((J Pharmacol and Exp Ther. 1996, 279: 1520-1526).

Although I have long used PABA to help prevent sunburn, it seems logical to consider addition of 600 mg of milk thistle before significant sun exposure.

Who might benefit from Silymarin Marianum? Individuals with:

Coronary artery disease
Inflammatory diseases
Sun exposure

Where does it all end? That is, how do you decide which supplements to use? Stay tuned. I will address this issue as we continue.