Guide to Milk Thistle – An Unusual Herb

Milk Thistle or also known as Saint Mary’s thistle, blessed milk thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, and Scotch thistle, belongs to the annual plant family of Asteraceae. The milk thistle plant often has red or purple flowers along with shiny but pale green leaves that have white veins. Experts believe that the milk thistle originated in Southern Europe and Asia. Today, it can be seen throughout the world. In this article, we are going to know more about milk thistle, its origins, characteristics, and benefits.

Characteristics of Milk Thistle

The milk thistle plant can grow up to twelve to seventy-nine inches tall, and they have a conical shape. The base diameter of this plant can be as big as sixty-three inches. The milk thistle plant has a grooved and cottony stem. Some large milk thistle specimens have hollow stems. It has oblong leaves that can either be pinnate or lobate with sharp edges. Its leaves are shiny, hairless, and features milk-white veins.

The milk thistle plant blooms flower heads that can grow up to four to twelve inches wide and long. It often has red and purple color. Milk thistle plants typically bloom flowers from June to August in Northern parts of the world and from December to February in the Southern region. The bracts of the milk thistle have triangle-shaped spine-edged appendages, and it has a stout yellow spine. On the other hand, the milk thistle’s achenes are black with a white pappus along with a yellow basal ring.

Origins of the Milk Thistle and its Traditional Uses

The milk thistle plant has been used for over two thousand years. It originated in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and in some parts of the Middle East. As the years passed, the plant has been neutralized in North America, South America, and Southern Australia. However, most gardeners consider milk thistle as a weed because it grows fast. This plant can grow up to ten feet tall, and each of its flowers has about 190 seeds in them.

The most active component that you can get in milk thistle is silymarin. You get this from the extracts of the plant’s seeds. Aside from that, you can also get other essential compounds, such as flavonolignans.

Back in ancient Greece, a man named Dioscorides wrote a book wherein he described that the milk thistle plant was used to treat snakebites. When the middle ages came, people started using milk thistle to treat several liver problems. During the 1500s, a man named John Gerard wrote that the milk thistle plant extract can help with emotional distress as well as depression. It was also during this time when people started using the whole plant, which includes roots and milk. Years later, a herbalist and physician named Nicolas Culpeper said that milk thistle can help remove blockages in the liver as well as cure jaundice. Aside from that, milk thistle was also used to help treat spleen problems, irregular menstruation, and kidney problems.

Benefits of Milk Thistle

  • Helps support good liver health – As we mentioned, milk thistle is rich in an active ingredient called silymarin, which helps reduce free radical production. It also has a detoxifying effect on the body, which is why it is beneficial when it comes to liver problems.
  • Help reduces cholesterol – Research shows that milk thistle helps the bad cholesterol level in the body low.
  • Promote good skin health – Milk thistle is rich in different antioxidants, which means that they also have anti-aging effects on human skin cells. It also helps improve inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Improve allergic asthma symptoms – Silymarin can also protect the body against inflammation in the airways for people with allergic asthma.
  • Boosts the body’s immune system – Research shows that milk thistle extracts contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help improve the immunity of our body.
  • Help improve cognition – Studies show that milk thistle helps increase the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. This stress is one of the potential causes of Alzheimer’s disease, which is why consuming milk thistle extract can help treat and improve degenerative conditions in our brain.

Milk Thistle Products You Can Try

Where to Buy
Zazzee USDA Organic Milk Thistle Extract Capsules, 120 Vegan Capsules
Milk Thistle Seed Oil
Milk Thistle Tea
Milk Thistle Repair Sunscreen


1. Zazzee USDA Organic Milk Thistle Extract Capsules, 120 Vegan Capsules

This milk thistle food supplement uses a proprietary extraction method where they remove the silymarin from the milk thistle seeds in order to extract a more potent (30x stronger)  supplement compared to the other milk thistle supplements on the market. This milk thistle food supplement is one-hundred-percent organic, Non-GMO, and gluten-free.

2. Milk Thistle Seed Oil

This milk thistle seed oil is made of one-hundred percent pure milk thistle seed extract with no additives. This oil can be used on the hair, scalp, face, skin, lips, and even nails. You can also use this to topically treat scars, cuts, wounds, burns, and irritated skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

3. Milk Thistle Tea

This milk thistle tea is created with milk thistle seeds that can help protect the liver, detox, and increase breastmilk production. This a Non-GMO product, and it is also gluten-free, organic, sugar-free, and carb-free. This product comes with 36 unbleached bags of tea with no tags, strings, staples, or any unnecessary envelopes.

4. Milk Thistle Repair Sunscreen

This milk thistle sunscreen is SPF+50 PA++++, it helps protect you from UVB and UVA rays, and it is sweat and waterproof. Banobagi milk thistle sunscreen is made in Korea, and aside from protecting you from the heat and harmful rays of the sun, it also soothes, moisturizes, and nourishes your skin.