A few years back, a trust-worthy farmer that I purchase all my beef and chicken from informed me that he learned a long time ago that cows were well aware of the health benefits of milk thistles. He found his herd munching on the now valuable weed which made him curious enough to do some researching.
This farmer does NOT inject his cattle with any growth hormones nor antibiotics, as he has found his cattle to be much healthier by not administering these compounds. And, his customers (of which I am one!) benefit too.
Back when I learned about my farmer friend’s findings, my precious Shih Tzu Nugget was suffering from kidney failure … and I was willing to try ANYTHING to prolong his life or even just add to his level of comfort. That’s how I come to discuss the benefits with my local farmer friend, during a delivery he was arranging with me by telephone.
So, all the years that I’ve been cursing this blessed weed from showing up in my flower gardens … well, I still don’t like the milk thistle in my flower garden, but … just like the dandelion, I’m a lot less frustrated by its appearance.
The Eclectics, a school of medical herbalists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, used milk thistle to treat varicose veins and various pelvic congestions, including those linked to menstruation and to the liver, spleen, and kidneys.
So … this is why my Vet agreed to try Nugget on this supplement. Thankfully, Nugget’s Vet setup a proper dosage for me to administer. Did this help my Nugget? I don’t really know … but it certainly did not hurt him.
Though there have been no studies to prove this of benefit to dogs (or pets in general), apparently many veterinarians support using milk thistle to treat dogs and cats simply because of its potential liver benefits … and, because there is no drug to help improve liver function.
Studies show the benefits that the milk thistle has on some liver diseases; mainly alcohol-related, toxin-induced, and viral (example: hepatitis) liver diseases.
Milk Thistle Seeds Show Promise
Studies show that milk thistle has been used for such purposes as fighting hangovers, to treating those who have ingested poisonous mushrooms that release a toxin called amatoxin … while one case that was reported stated that a patient infected with both hepatitis C and HIV showed they were cleared of both after only 2 weeks of intravenous of silybinin … which is derived from the seed of the milk thistle plant.
Apparently, milk-thistle compounds have shown some hope for chemotherapy patients as well as a potential use as a direct anticancer treatment due to its inducing death of colon cancer cells, prostate cancer, and more.
Milk thistle was even found to actually reduced cancer formation by blocking essential cancer pathways, although the nature of these pathways requires more research to be done; simply because anticancer activity hasn’t been clearly proven in human trials … yet.
WARNING: Some long-term side effects from using milk thistle are; diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, and raised liver enzymes. Raised enzymes levels could lead to interactions with drugs such as; contraceptives, agents that lower lipids, known treatments for HIV and hepatitis C, and chemotherapies.
BEWARE: Please do not trust just ANY vendor when purchasing milk thistle. Because it is categorized as a supplement rather than a drug, milk thistle is not subject to the same scrutiny of quality control as are standard drugs. It has been reported that some of these supplements have been found to be contaminated with a mould … the sort that can cause liver cancer!
The studies clearly state the following:
This finding suggests that understanding appropriate doses and examining blood concentrations will be crucial for further development of milk-thistle compounds as anticancer therapies.
So, if you don’t want to suffer any of the known side effects from using milk thistle you will need to be very cautious of the dosage you take, should you decide to take this supplement at all.
For Further Reading
Given my passion for genealogy, is it any wonder that I eventually wanted to publish my work? Learning to use a personal computer was a natural step once I was introduced it in the 1990s. Then the internet offered a second means to "publish" and now, here I am with a personal blog.