Milk thistle is best known as a natural liver tonic. At the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center presented exciting news. The use of milk thistle is no longer limited to the liver. Apparently, it can also support the body in other matters – for example in the fight against colon cancer.
Milk thistle for liver protection and regeneration
The milk thistle belongs to the daisy family and is mainly found in the Mediterranean region.
But the purple flowering thistle has also found a home in more northern regions and feels particularly at home on stony ground, which is why it likes to thrive on fields or roadsides.
Milk thistle has long been known as a medicinal plant for the liver.
Its main active ingredient – silymarin – protects the liver cells from toxic substances and promotes liver regeneration.
Milk thistle against lung and colon cancer
Recent studies indicate that milk thistle could even help prevent the spread of lung cancer.
And silymarin or milk thistle also seems to be helpful when it comes to colon cancer.
For example, studies in recent years, including those by Dr. Agarwal and colleagues found that silymarin affects cell signaling responsible for the formation and growth of colon cancer cells.
However, these studies did not go beyond simple cell cultures. A new study showed that milk thistle or silymarin can also fight colon cancer in animals.
For this purpose, silymarin was added to the feed of mice suffering from colon cancer. A control group, which also had colon cancer, did not receive any silymarin.
The results were clear. The animals that were fed silymarin not only had fewer cancer stem cells, but the tumors were smaller and also had a lower metabolism.
The tumors also showed a reduced tendency to form new blood vessels. In other words, tumor growth was noticeably slowed down.
Silymarin from milk thistle stops metastasis formation
Experiments at the metastasis stage showed that tumors from animals that had once received silymarin had lost their ability to grow and also to form metastases – even though the mice had long since stopped receiving silymarin.
This is particularly interesting because the main tumor is generally considered to be less of a problem than metastases. So if the formation of metastases can be stopped, there is great hope that cancer can be cured.
From the study, it can be deduced that main tumors treated with silymarin grow more slowly and/or do not form metastases so that a problematic spread of cancer can be inhibited or even prevented.
Silymarin is therefore even regarded as a potentially cancer-preventive agent and could in the future – in whatever form – be considered as an alternative therapy to conventional chemotherapy.
Milk thistle – possible uses
Silymarin is hardly soluble in water and therefore only goes into tea infusions in very small quantities. Milk thistle tea is therefore not very rich in active ingredients. Ready-to-use preparations made from milk thistle fruit extracts, which contain high doses of silymarin, make more sense. Experts recommend around 200 to 400 mg of silymarin per day.
Milk thistle preparations are often also available in drugstores and supermarkets, but these are often completely underdosed, i.e. very often contain doses that are far too small for an effect to be expected. So when buying milk thistle products, pay attention to the silymarin content per daily dose.