That gorgeous, but horrible weed we mow down and spritz ever year is not our enemy. It is a shame how many times we have cleared the back yard of a beneficial plant, then gone to the health food store to pay a bundle for extracts of that same plant!
Milk Thistle is that plant. It is also called Silybum marianum and it has been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. The most common uses is to treat liver and gallbladder problems.
What is in milk thistle? According to the University of Maryland Medical Center webpage, a flavonoid complex called silymarin comes from milk thistle seeds. This is not hard science but the silymarin is said to be the active ingredient. There have not been a lot of good human trials to prove that milk thistle does anything, which is hard to understand.
The liver: Milk thistle protects the liver from toxins like acetaminophen (Tylenol). Tylenol can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin also offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It may also help the liver by helping to generate new cells. This is also promising, but not proved for Hepatitis and cirrhosis from alcoholism.
Mushroom Poisoning and cancer are also helped with Milk Thistle seed extract.