Herbs for Liver, the Organ Not the Stinky Dinner with Onions

A few months before the birth of my son, a routine check-up revealed a slightly elevated bilirubin level in my blood.  The liver filters bilirubin from the blood, so elevated levels can indicate poor liver function.  Since my level was only slightly elevated, I jumped into action.  Research pointed me toward a reduction or elimination of alcohol, and a daily supplement of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum).

Milk Thistle is an herb that has been used for over two thousand years to treat liver and gallbladder disorders.  Hundreds of studies, primarily in Europe, have shown the positive benefits of this herb with no reports of toxicity.

The seed extract of Milk Thistle is called silymarin, which is a bioflavonoid and powerful antioxidant responsible for the herbs medical benefits.  It assists the liver by protecting the liver cells from harmful toxins.  Additionally, it supports the regeneration of liver cells.

The medical conditions that may benefit from a daily supplement of Milk Thistle are chronic active hepatitis, cirrhosis, patients receiving chemotherapy, HIV patients on a multi-drug regimen, patients that use hepatotoxic medications, and those with a history of moderate to heavy alcohol use.

Studies show that the positive effects of milk thistle are generally apparent after approximately two months of use.  On a personal note, after about one month of no alcohol, clean living, and a daily supplement of milk thistle, I received a clean bill of health from my doctor.

An additional use of milk thistle is to help the liver protect against the pollutants that continue to harm our environment and planet, since many of the toxins are inhales or ingested and pass through our liver.  Of course, the long and short term goals must ultimately be to heal the planet, as an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

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