Milk thistle was used historically as a digestive aid, to promote the flow of digestive juices, and as a tonic for nursing mothers, to increase milk supply. Nowadays it’s popularity stems from its ability to detoxify and protect a very important organ, the liver.
Our liver is responsible for filtering out most everything that should not be in our body and processing it so that it doesn’t cause damage to other cells. It also metabolizes hormones and fats, and makes sure that the transportation system for fats (cholesterol) is working properly.
The medicinal activity of milk thistle is in a molecule called silymarin. It causes liver cells, hepatocytes, to resist toxic compounds and regenerate themselves. It also increases glutathione in the liver.