Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Milk Thistle?

"...this article is important because studies have shown that people w/Ds (and people w/autism)
have low levels of glutathione. .which is a problem, because low levels of glutathione can be a factor in decreased immunity..PLUS, the liver needs glutathione in order to break down acetominophen (tylenol) and other toxins.
http://aaemonline. org/blog/ category/ glutathione/ (for more information, read the section 'a mathmatical model of glutathione metabolism)"
Milk thistle increases the production of glutathione.


Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver and gall bladder problems. Several scientific studies suggest that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.
Although a number of animal studies demonstrate that milk thistle can be helpful in protecting the liver, results in human studies are mixed.
Liver disease from alcohol
Milk thistle is often suggested as a treatment for alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. But scientific studies show mixed results. Most studies show milk thistle improves liver function and increases survival in people with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis. But problems in the design of the studies (such as small numbers of participants and differences in dosing and duration of milk thistle therapy) make it hard to draw any real conclusions.
Viral hepatitis
Milk thistle is widely used in the treatment of viral hepatitis (particularly hepatitis C). But studies show mixed results. Some found improvements in liver function, while others did not. None of the studies compared milk thistle with interferon or other medications for viral hepatitis.
Mushroom poisoning
Based on traditional use, milk thistle has been used as an emergency antidote to poisoning by deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). Animal studies have found that milk thistle extract completely counteracts the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.
Early laboratory studies also suggest that silymarin and other active substances in milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects. These substances appear to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, shorten their life span, and reduce blood supple to tumors. More studies are needed, however, to show whether milk thistle has any effects in the body (not just test tubes).

Plant Description:

Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean region, and is now found throughout the world. This stout thistle usually grows in dry, sunny areas. The spiny stems branch at the top, and reach a height of 4 to 10 feet. The leaves are wide, with white blotches or veins. Milk thistle gets its name from the milky white fluid that comes from the leaves when they are crushed. The flowers are red-purple. The small, hard-skinned fruit is brown, spotted, and shiny. Milk thistle spreads quickly (it is considered a weed in some parts of the world), and it matures quickly, in less than a year.

What's It Made Of?:

The active ingredient -- the one that protects the liver -- in milk thistle is known as silymarin. Silymarin is actually a group of flavonoids (silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin), which are thought to help repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances. Silymarin also keeps new liver cells from being destroyed by these same toxins. It reduces inflammation (which is why it is often suggested for people with liver inflammation or hepatitis), and is a strong antioxidant.
Most milk thistle products are standardized preparations made from the seeds of the plant. Most preparations are standardized to contain 70 - 80% of silymarin.

Available Forms:

  • Capsules of standardized dried herb (each capsule contains about 120 - 140 mg silymarin)
  • Liquid extract
  • Tincture
  • Silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex
A few studies show that a silymarin-phosphatidylcholine complex may be absorbed more easily than regular standardized milk thistle. Phosphatidylcholine is a key element in cell membranes. It helps silymarin attach easily to cell membranes, which may keep toxins from getting inside liver cells. Alcohol extracts should be avoided by anyone with alcohol-related liver disease.

How to Take It

If you think you have a liver problem, you should see a doctor. Liver disease can be life threatening.
  • Recommended dose: 280 - 450 mg per day in divided doses or silymarin-phosphatidylcholine complex 100 - 200 mg two times per day.

There are no studies showing whether or not it is safe to give milk thistle to a child. Liver problems can be serious and should be diagnosed by a physician. Talk to your doctor before giving milk thistle to a child.
I figure dosage for Jett this way:
adult 280 - 450 mg a day/140 lbs
140 - 225 mg a day/70 lbs
70 - 112 mg a day/35 lbs
35 -56 mg a day/17 lbs, one drop in the morning and one drop later in the day


35.7 mg per drop

Be sure to get $10 off your first VitaCost vitamin order.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care practitioner.
Milk thistle is generally regarded as safe. Side effects are usually mild and may involve stomach upset and diarrhea. Some people may get a rash from touching milk thistle plants.
Milk thistle should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
People with a history of hormone-related cancers, including breast and uterine cancer and prostate cancer, should not take milk thistle.

Possible Interactions:

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use milk thistle without first talking to your healthcare provider.
  • Antipsychotics -- includes butyrophenones (such as haloperidol) and phenothiazines (such as chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, and promethazine)
  • Phenytoin(Dilantin) -- a medication used for seizures
  • Halothane -- a medication used during general anesthesia
Milk thistle may interfere with the following medications, because both milk thistle and these medications are broken down by the same liver enzymes:
  • Allergy drugs -- such as fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Drugs for high cholesterol -- including statins such as lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor)
  • Anti-anxiety drugs -- including alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners) -- including clopidogrel (Plavix) and warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Some cancer drugs

Alternative Names:

Silybum marianum; St. Mary's thistle
  • Reviewed last on: 3/22/2009
  • Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

Supporting Research

Agarwal R, Agarwal C, Ichikawa H, Singh RP, Aggarwal BB. Anticancer potential of silymarin: from bench to bed side. Anticancer Res. 2006 Nov-Dec;26(6B):4457-98. Review.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Milk thistle: effects on liver disease and cirrhosis and clinical adverse effects. Summary, evidence report/technology assessment: number 21, September 2000.
Asghar Z, Masood Z. Evaluation of antioxidant properties of silymarin and its potential to inhibit peroxyl radicals in vitro. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2008 Jul;21(3):249-54.
Barve A, Khan R, Marsano L, Ravindra KV, McClain C. Treatment of alcoholic liver disease. Ann Hepatol. 2008 Jan-Mar;7(1):5-15. Review.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:257-263.
Ferenci P, Scherzer TM, Kerschner H, Rutter K, Beinhardt S, Hofer H, et al. Silibinin is a potent antiviral agent in patients with chronic hepatitis C not responding to pegylated interferon/ribavirin therapy. Gastroenterology. 2008 Nov;135(5):1561-7.
Gazak R, Walterova D, Kren V. Silybin and silymarin -- new and emerging applications in medicine. Curr Med Chem. 2007;14(3):315-38. Review.
Giese LA. A study of alternative health care use for gastrointestinal disorders. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2000;23(1):19-27.
Gordon A, Hobbs DA, Bowden DS, Bailey MJ, Mitchell J, Francis AJ, Roberts SK. Effects of Silybum marianum on serum hepatitis C virus RNA, alanine aminotransferase levels and well-being in patients with chronic hepatitis C. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Jan;21(1 Pt 2):275-80.
Hoh C, Boocock D, Marczylo T, Singh R, Berry DP, Dennison AR, et al. Pilot study of oral silibinin, a putative chemopreventive agent, in colorectal cancer patients: silibinin levels in plasma, colorectum, and liver and their pharmacodynamic consequences. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 May 1;12(9):2944-50.
Jiang C, Agarwal R, Lu J. Anti-angiogenic potential of a cancer chemopreventive flavonoid antioxidant, Silymairn: inhibition of key attributes of vascular endothelial cells and angiogenic cytokine secretion by cancer epithelial cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000;276:371-378.
Köksal E, Gülçin I, Beyza S, Sarikaya O, Bursal E. In vitro antioxidant activity of silymarin. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2009 Apr;24(2):395-405.
Low Dog T. Traditional and alternative therapies for breast cancer. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7(3):36-47.
Mayer KE, Myers RP, Lee SS. Silymarin treatment of viral hepatitis: a systematic review. J Viral Hepat. 2005 Nov;12(6):559-67. Review.
Najm W, Lie D. Dietary supplements commonly used for prevention. Prim Care. 2008 Dec;35(4):749-67.
Rainone F. Milk thistle. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Oct 1;72(7):1285-8. Review.
Ramasamy K, Agarwal R. Multitargeted therapy of cancer by silymarin. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):352-62. Review.
Rambaldi A, Jacobs BP, Iaquinto G, Gluud C. Milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases – a systematic cochrane hepato-biliary group review with meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Nov;100(11):2583-91. Review.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002:266-271.
Saller R, Brignoli R, Melzer J, Meier R. An updated systematic review with meta-analysis for the clinical evidence of silymarin. Forsch Komplementmed. 2008 Feb;15(1):9-20. Review.
Zielinska-Przyjemska M, Wiktorowicz K. An in vitro study of the protective effect of the flavonoid silydianin against reactive oxygen species. Phytother Res. 2006 Feb;20(2):115-9
Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants
by Mark Hyman, M.D.
from a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.huffingt dr-mark-hyman/ glutathione- the-mot...>
It's the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent disease -- yet you've probably never heard of it. It's the secret to prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer's disease. There are more than 89,000 medical articles about it -- but your doctor doesn't know how address the epidemic deficiency of this critical life-giving molecule ...
What is it? I'm talking about the mother of all antioxidants, the master detoxifier and maestro of the immune system: GLUTATHIONE (pronounced "gloota-thigh- own").
The good news is that your body produces its own glutathione. The bad news is that poor diet, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, infections and radiation all deplete your glutathione.

This leaves you susceptible to unrestrained cell disintegration from oxidative stress, free radicals, infections and cancer. And your liver gets overloaded and damaged, making it unable to do its job of detoxification.
In treating chronically ill patients with Functional Medicine for more than 10 years, I have discovered that glutathione deficiency is found in nearly all very ill patients. These include people with chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, cancer, chronic infections, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, asthma, kidney problems, liver disease and more.

At first I thought that this was just a coincidental finding, but over the years I have come to realize that our ability to produce and maintain a high level of glutathione is critical to recovery from nearly all chronic illness -- and to preventing disease and maintaining optimal health and performance. The authors of those 76,000 medical articles on glutathione I mentioned earlier have found the same thing!
So in today's blog I want to explain what glutathione is, why it's important and give you 9 tips that will help you optimize your glutathione levels, improve your detoxification system and protect help yourself from chronic illness.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally all the time in your body. It is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids -- cysteine, glycine and glutamine.
The secret of its power is the sulfur (SH) chemical groups it contains. Sulfur is a sticky, smelly molecule. It acts like fly paper and all the bad things in the body stick onto it, including free radicals and toxins like mercury and other heavy metals.
Normally glutathione is recycled in the body -- except when the toxic load becomes too great. And that explains why we are in such trouble ...
In my practice, I test the genes involved in glutathione metabolism. These are the genes involved in producing enzymes that allow the body to create and recycle glutathione in the body. These genes have many names, such as GSTM1, GSTP1 and more.
These genes impaired in some people for a variety of important reasons. We humans evolved in a time before the 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals found in our environment today were introduced into our world, before electromagnetic radiation was everywhere and before we polluted our skies, lakes, rivers, oceans and teeth with mercury and lead.
That is why most people survived with the basic version of the genetic detoxification software encoded in our DNA, which is mediocre at ridding the body of toxins. At the time humans evolved we just didn't need more. Who knew we would be poisoning ourselves and eating a processed, nutrient-depleted diet thousands of years later?
Because most of us didn't require additional detoxification software, almost of half of the population now has a limited capacity to get rid of toxins. These people are missing GSTM1 function -- one of the most important genes needed in the process of creating and recycling glutathione in the body.
Nearly all my very sick patients are missing this function. The one-third of our population that suffers from chronic disease is missing this essential gene. That includes me. Twenty years ago I became mercury poisoned and suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome due to this very problem. My GSTM1 function was inadequate and I didn't produce enough glutathione as a result. Eventually, my body broke down and I became extremely ill ...
This is the same problem I see in so many of my patients. They are missing this critical gene and they descend into disease as a result. Let me explain how this happens ...
The Importance of Glutathione in Protecting Against Chronic Illness
Glutathione is critical for one simple reason: It recycles antioxidants. You see, dealing with free radicals is like handing off a hot potato. They get passed around from vitamin C to vitamin E to lipoic acid and then finally to glutathione which cools off the free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. After this happens, the body can "reduce" or regenerate another protective glutathione molecule and we are back in business.
However, problems occur when we are overwhelmed with too much oxidative stress or too many toxins. Then the glutathione becomes depleted and we can no longer protect ourselves against free radicals, infections, or cancer and we can't get rid of toxins. This leads to further sickness and soon we are in the downward spiral of chronic illness.
But that's not all. Glutathione is also critical in helping your immune system do its job of fighting infections and preventing cancer. That's why studies show that it can help in the treatment of AIDS.(i)
Glutathione is also the most critical and integral part of your detoxification system. All the toxins stick onto glutathione, which then carries them into the bile and the stool -- and out of your body.
And lastly, it also helps us reach peak mental and physical function. Research has shown that raised glutathione levels decrease muscle damage, reduce recovery time, increase strength and endurance and shift metabolism from fat production to muscle development.
If you are sick or old or are just not in peak shape, you likely have glutathione deficiency.
In fact, the top British medical journal, the Lancet, found the highest glutathione levels in healthy young people, lower levels in healthy elderly, lower still in sick elderly and the lowest of all in the hospitalized elderly. (ii)
Keeping yourself healthy, boosting your performance, preventing disease and aging well depends on keeping your glutathione levels high. I'll say it again ... Glutathione is so important because it is responsible for keeping so many of the keys to UltraWellness optimized.
It is critical for immune function and controlling inflammation. It is the master detoxifier and the body's main antioxidant, protecting our cells and making our energy metabolism run well.
And the good news is that you can do many things to increase this natural and critical molecule in your body. You can eat glutathione- boosting foods. You can exercise. And you can take glutathione- boosting supplements. Let's review more specifics about each.
9 Tips to Optimize your Glutathione Levels
These 9 tips will help you improve your glutathione levels, improve your health, optimize your performance and live a long, healthy life.
Eat Foods that Support Glutathione Production
1. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.).
2. Try bioactive whey protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. As you know, I am not a big fan of dairy. But this is an exception -- with a few warnings. The whey protein MUST be bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins ("denaturing" refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure). Choose non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Immunocal is a prescription bioactive non-denatured whey protein that is even listed in the Physician's Desk Reference.
Exercise for Your Way to More Glutathione
3. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body's own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.
Take Glutathione Supporting Supplements
One would think it would be easy just to take glutathione as a pill, but the body digests protein -- so you wouldn't get the benefits if you did it this way. However, the production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. Besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting my glutathione levels with these supplements is the most important thing I do every day for my personal health.
4. N-acetyl-cysteine. This has been used for years to help treat asthma and lung disease and to treat people with life-threatening liver failure from Tylenol overdose. In fact, I first learned about it in medical school while working in the emergency room. It is even given to prevent kidney damage from dyes used during x-ray studies.

5. Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. The body usually makes it, but given all the stresses we are under, we often become depleted.
6. Methylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12). These are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofol ate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin) .
7. Selenium. This important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.

8. A family of antioxidants including vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols) , work together to recycle glutathione.
9. Milk thistle (silymarin) has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels.
So use these nine tips and see how they work to help you optimzie your glutathione levels. When you do, you will take one more step to lifelong vibrant health.

(i) De Rosa SC, Zaretsky MD, Dubs JG, Roederer M, Anderson M, Green A, Mitra D, Watanabe N, Nakamura H, Tjioe I, Deresinski SC, Moore WA, Ela SW, Parks D, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA. N-acetylcysteine replenishes glutathione in HIV infection. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000 Oct;30(10):915- 29
(ii) Nuttall S, Martin U, Sinclair A, Kendall M. 1998. Glutathione: in sickness and in health. The Lancet 351(9103):645- 646

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