Milk Thistle: A Review Of Liver Detox Supplements

My first supplement review can be found here. The idea of taking milk thistle seems a good idea to many persons with hepatitis C, but are the claims of these products able to stand up to science? Let us find out!

Please talk with your doctor or health practitioner before taking any supplements or medication. This article is not intended to be used as medical advice.

Second Review: Milk Thistle with 80% Silymarin from MapleLife
The supplement being reviewed and discussed can be found here.

The liver in all it's glory

The liver is a complex and multi-functional organ: detoxing the body, making bile, filtering blood, making cholesterol and special proteins to carry fats throughout the body. This organ is no ‘small potatoes.’ When a person is faced with a liver-affecting diagnosis like hepatitis C, it is natural to look into supplements and medications that can help boost your liver function. However, there are many supplement companies that prey on the vulnerable, making claims about supplements that are unfounded by science. For more information about how hepatitis C directly affects the liver, check out this article from one of my fellow advocates!

Examining the product

Milk thistle has long been touted as a go-to liver detoxification supplement, but is there evidence to support those claims? This series of articles will examine a select few of these supplements: their claims and truly examine the facts versus the fiction.

MapleLife is a Canadian supplement and vitamin company that sells its products via multiple vitamin online retailers. Their product, Milk Thistle with 80% Silymarin claims that it:

  • Will protect and create new liver cells
  • Lowers cholesterol and hangover symptoms
  • Supports the body by cleansing toxins

Do their claims stand up to the test? Let us find out!

Milk thistle 101

Milk thistle is an herb related to the daisy and ragweed family. The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, a polyphenolic flavonoid that consists of three phytochemicals: silybin, silidianin, and silicristin.1

When it comes to hepatitis C, the research on the benefits is not promising. A study conducted in 2008 by the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment Against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) in partnership with the National Institute of Health examined milk thistle. They found that participants who used milk thistle (silymarin) had fewer and milder hepatitis C symptoms, but the herb had no effect on viral load or liver inflammation. This study shows there is no evidence to suggest that milk thistle creates new liver cells or expunges toxins.2

The research speaks for itself

In a 2012 clinical trial funded by the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), it was found that the herb had no more effect on the participants than a placebo.2 The doses given were twice the recommended amount, but still did not produce the health effects claimed by milk thistle enthusiasts.

So where does this leave you? Although the claims from the supplement featured are chock-full of buzzwords and seem too good to be true, it is ultimately your choice. There is no research to suggest that taking this supplement is harmful to your liver or your health. The best thing one can do is to stay informed, do your research, and never stop asking, ‘Why?’.

Join us next time for our third and final review of liver detoxification supplements!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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