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Home > Anti-aging Research > Silymarin

Silymarin (Silybum marianum)/Milk Thistle

Specific Recommendations:

News & Research:

  • Plant compounds give '1-2' punch to colon cancer - Science Daily, 7/22/16 - "The combination of two plant compounds that have medicinal properties -- curcumin and silymarin -- holds promise in treating colon cancer ... The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. In addition, when the colon cancer cells were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death" - See curcumin products at Amazon.com and silymarin at Amazon.com.
  • Oral milk thistle extract stops colorectal cancer stem cells from growing tumors - Science Daily, 4/20/15 - "It's very simple: tumors from mice that were initially fed silibinin had fewer cancer stem cells, were smaller, had lower metabolisms and showed decreased growth of new blood vessels. Importantly, when these cancer stem cells from tumors in mice fed silibinin were re-injected into new mice, we found these stem cells had lost their potential to repopulate even in the absence of silibinin exposure"
  • Berberis aristata combined with Silybum marianum on lipid profile in patients not tolerating statins at high doses - Atherosclerosis. 2014 Dec 24 - "To evaluate the effects of Berberis aristata combined with Silybum marianum in dyslipidemic patients intolerant to statins at high doses ... B. aristata/S. marianum reduced fasting plasma glucose (-9 mg/dl), insulin (-0.7 μU/ml), and HOMA-index (-0.35) levels compared to baseline and also to placebo. Lipid profile did not significantly change after 6 months since the reduction of statin dosage and the introduction of B. aristata/S. marianum, while it worsened in the placebo group both compared to placebo and with active treatment (+23.4 mg/dl for total cholesterol, +19.6 mg/dl for LDL-cholesterol, +23.1 mg/dl for triglycerides with placebo compared to B. aristata/S. marianum). We did not record any variations of safety parameters in nether of groups" - See silymarin at Amazon.com and berberine at Amazon.com.
  • Silibinin, found in milk thistle, protects against UV-induced skin cancer - Science Daily, 1/30/13 - "A pair of University of Colorado Cancer Center studies published this month show that the milk thistle extract, silibinin, kills skin cells mutated by UVA radiation and protects against damage by UVB radiation -- thus protecting against UV-induced skin cancer and photo-aging ... When you have a cell affected by UV radiation, you either want to repair it or kill it so that it cannot go on to cause cancer. We show that silibinin does both"
  • Milk thistle extract stops lung cancer in mice, study shows - Science Daily, 11/15/11 - "Compared to these multi-million dollar drugs, naturally-occurring silibinin blocked not only the expression of COX2 and iNOS, but also the migration of existing lung cancer cells"
  • Milk thistle herb protects cancer patients from chemotherapy-associated liver toxicity - Science Daily, 12/27/09 - "Fifty children with ALL were enrolled in the study and were randomized to receive milk thistle or placebo for 28 days. At the start of the study, all of the children had evidence of liver inflammation as measured by elevations in blood levels of the liver enzymes, aspartate amino transferase (AST) and amino alanine transferase (ALT). When the investigators performed liver function tests on the children at day 56 (28 days after receiving the herb or placebo), children receiving milk thistle had improvements in their liver enzymes compared with children receiving a placebo. Specifically, the group that took milk thistle had significantly lower levels of AST and a trend towards significantly lower levels of ALT. Taking milk thistle also seemed to help keep fewer patients from having to lower the dose of their medications: chemotherapy doses were reduced in 61 percent of the group receiving milk thistle, compared with 72 percent of the placebo group. In addition, milk thistle appeared to be safe for consumption"
  • Herb May Treat Chemotherapy Liver Damage - WebMD, 12/14/09 - "The youths who took milk thistle had significantly lower levels of AST and a trend toward significant lower levels of ALT, the researchers say ... Milk thistle also seemed to help keep fewer patients from having to lower the dose of their chemotherapy drugs ... Chemotherapy doses were reduced in 61% of those on milk thistle, compared to 72% in the placebo group. Milk thistle appeared to be safe for consumption, the researchers write"
  • Scientific Evidence Of The Significant Anti-cancer Effect Of Milk Thistle - Science Daily, 11/14/07 - "Their research results indicate that silibinin can be used to prevent the development of liver cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide"
  • Milk Thistle Supplements review - ConsumerLab.com, 6/13/07 - "our tests showed one supplement to have only 20% of the expected amount of silymarin compounds — the key active components of milk thistle. Four other products provided no more than two-thirds of their expected amounts. Another fell short by 16%. And one supplement failed to identify the part of milk thistle used — a FDA labeling requirement"
  • Milk Thistle May Help Treat Diabetes - WebMD, 10/31/06 - "At the study's start, the patients had similar blood sugar levels and blood sugar control ... But after taking the tablets for four months, the milk thistle group showed better blood sugar control and cholesterol and triglyceride levels"
  • Milk thistle extract could help diabetes control - Nutra USA, 10/30/06 - "fasting glucose levels of the supplementation group decreased from 156 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) of blood to 133 mg/dL, while the placebo group's fasting glucose levels increased from 167 to 188 mg/dL" - See silymarin at Amazon.com.
  • Milk Thistle May Slow Lung Cancer  - WebMD, 6/20/06 - "They found smaller lung tumors in the mice with silibinin in their diets, compared with those consuming no silibinin. They also had fewer large lung tumors"
  • A New Weapon to Fight Prostate Cancer - Life Extension Magazine, 11/05 - "Scientists have shown that milk thistle extracts possess anti-cancer actions on human prostate carcinoma in vitro and in vivo. Many of the mechanisms by which silymarin compounds interfere with prostate cancer progression have been identified. The scientists who conducted the most recent study stated that, in addition to isosilybin B, there might be other silymarin compounds that are effective as well"
  • Milk thistle "does not" lower mortality - Nutra USA, 5/3/05
  • Milk Thistle Supplements review - ConsumerLab.com, 10/28/04
  • Silibinin: The Herbal Extract that Protects the Liver - Life Extension Magazine, 12/03 - "The extract from the seeds of milk thistle contains silibinin, a substance with powerful liver-protection effects. In addition, silibinin can help reduce inflammation, diminish oxidation and free radical damage and enhance health in other ways"
  • Silybin-Beta-Cyclodextrin Reduces Glucose, Triglyceride Levels In Diabetes With Liver Disease - Doctor's Guide, 11/12/02 - "Fasting blood glucose levels decreased by 14.7 percent from baseline in patients receiving silybin-beta-cyclodextrin ... Plasma triglycerides concentrations dropped from a mean 186 to 111 mg/dl at six months in those that received silybin-beta-cyclodextrin" - See silymarin at Amazon.com.
  • Liver And Kidney Protection - Courtesy of Silibinin - Life Extension Magazine, 6/00 - "We live in an age of toxic overload. Silibinin, the chief active ingredient in milk thistle extract, is one of our best defenses against this constant chemical assault. Silibinin is highly effective at protecting the liver, the pancreas and the kidneys from toxic damage, an ever-increasing danger due to our exposure to harmful chemicals. In addition, silibinin has been shown to have various other health benefits, including cancer prevention. The right dosage is extremely important for effectiveness. People who complain that herb products do not deliver as promised typically use products that contain only ineffective, miniscule doses of the main active ingredient. Fortunately, more and more herbal extracts, including silibinin, are now available in guaranteed potency form, and in sufficient dosage to produce results."
  • Can Silibinin Arrest Cancer Cells Growth? - Life Extension Magazine, 6/00 - "It has been established that silibinin is an effective scavenger of various free radicals, including hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals, and the hypochlorite ion that originates in neutrophils (Mira 1994). While it constitutes an important antibacterial defense, the hypochlorite radical is also extremely damaging to normal cells, and must be quickly "disarmed." Unchecked, the hypochlorite ion can even chlorinate DNA bases. In the presence of iron, it creates the hydroxyl radical, which can also directly attack DNA ... Silibinin has been found to protect red blood vessels and stabilize their membranes through inhibition of lipid peroxidation. In addition, silibinin increases the activity of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase in human red blood cells (Altorjay 1992). Another study found that silymarin normalized low SOD activity and altered immunoreactivity in the lymphocytes (a common type of white blood cell) of patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis"
  • Milk Thistle - Compiled by Chad Bradshaw, Pharm.D
  • The Prediabetic Epidemic - Nutrition Science News, 3/01 - "Supplements to Regulate Glucose and Insulin ... Alpha-Lipoic Acid ... Vitamin E ... Vitamin C ... Chromium ... Silymarin is an antioxidant extract of the herb milk thistle (Silybum marianum). It has been shown to reduce all of the major indicators of diabetes, including blood sugar, insulin, glycosuria, and glycosylated hemoglobin. Researchers achieved these results with 800 mg daily of a standardized silymarin extract given for one year. The benefits appeared consistently after about 60 days, and all diabetic signs improved further over the course of a year. However, lower doses are probably sufficient in combination with other supplements ... Supplement tips: With other supplements, 200­400 mg/day of a standardized extract of silymarin should help maintain normal glucose levels"
  • Artichoke Family Shows Promise in Preventing Skin Cancer - Doctor's Guide, 4/27/97 - "Only 25% of the silymarin-treated mice developed tumors compared to 100% of the control group mice"

Abstracts:

  • Safety and toxicity of silymarin, the major constituent of milk thistle extract: An updated review - Phytother Res. 2019 May 8 - "It is most commonly known for its hepatoprotective effect. Also, studies have shown other therapeutic effects such as anticancer, anti-Alzheimer, anti-Parkinson, and anti-diabetic, so its safety is very important. It has no major toxicity in animals ... Silymarin is safe in humans at therapeutic doses and is well tolerated even at a high dose of 700 mg three times a day for 24 weeks. Some gastrointestinal discomforts occurred like nausea and diarrhea. One clinical trial showed silymarin is safe in pregnancy, and there were no anomalies. Consequently, caution should be exercised during pregnancy, and more studies are needed especially in humans. Silymarin has low-drug interactions, and it does not have major effects on cytochromes P-450. Some studies demonstrated that the use of silymarin must be with caution when co-administered with narrow therapeutic window drugs" - See silymarin at Amazon.com.
  • Metabolic effect of berberine–silymarin association: A meta‐analysis of randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled clinical trials - Phytotherapy research, Jan 11, 19 - "Berberine and silymarin combination treatment exerted a positive effect on TC (mean difference [MD]: −25.3, 95% CI [−39.2, −11.4] mg/dl; p < 0.001), TG (MD: −28, 95% CI [−35.3, −20.6] mg/dl; p < 0.001), HDL‐C [MD: 6, 95% CI [3.2, 8.8] mg/dl; p < 0.001), LDL‐C (MD: −29.1, 95% CI [−39.7, −18.6] mg/dl; p < 0.001), and FPG (MD: −7.5, 95% CI [−13, −1.9] mg/dl; p = 0.008). The present findings suggest that the coadministration of berberine and silymarin is associated with an advantageous improvement in lipid and glucose profile, suggesting the possible use of this nutraceutical combination in order to promote the cardiometabolic health" - [Nutra USA] - See silymarin at Amazon.com and berberine at Amazon.com.
  • Role of Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells and the Protective Effect of Silymarin in Cisplatin-Induced Acute Renal Failure in Rats - Am J Med Sci. 2018 Jan;355(1):76-83 - "There was a significant improvement in kidney function tests and renal histopathology by using silymarin as protective mechanism in cisplatin-induced ARF"
  • Silibinin Reduces the Impact of Obesity on Invasive Liver Cancer - Nutr Cancer. 2017 Oct 25:1-9 - "Obesity is associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Obesity and metabolic abnormalities resulting in low-grade inflammation can increase the risk of developing NASH and HCC. NASH, a risk factor for HCC, is characterized by increased inflammation, lipid accumulation, and liver injury ... Silibinin, a polyphenol in milk thistle seed, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties ... Silibinin suppressed obesity-induced growth, ROS, lipogenesis, MMP-9, and cell invasion"
  • Effect of Oral Silymarin Administration on Prevention of Radiotherapy Induced Mucositis: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial - Phytother Res. 2016 Nov;30(11):1879-1885 - "Mucositis is a frequent severe complication of radiation therapy in patient with head and neck cancer ... The scores increased significantly in both placebo and silymarin groups during radiotherapy, but there was a delay for mucositis development and progression in silymarin group. Prophylactic administration of conventional form of silymarin tablets could significantly reduce the severity of radiotherapy induced mucositis and delay its occurrence in patients with head and neck cancer"
  • Effect of Oral Silymarin Administration on Prevention of Radiotherapy Induced Mucositis: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial - Phytother Res. 2016 Aug 23 - "Mucositis is a frequent severe complication of radiation therapy in patient with head and neck cancer ... oral silymarin 420 mg daily in three divided doses starting at the first day of radiotherapy for 6 weeks, on oral mucositis occurrence was assessed ... The median World Health Organization and National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria scores were significantly lower in silymarin group at the end of the first to sixth week (p < 0.05). The scores increased significantly in both placebo and silymarin groups during radiotherapy, but there was a delay for mucositis development and progression in silymarin group. Prophylactic administration of conventional form of silymarin tablets could significantly reduce the severity of radiotherapy induced mucositis and delay its occurrence in patients with head and neck cancer" - See silymarin at Amazon.com.
  • Silymarin Accelerates Liver Regeneration after Partial Hepatectomy - Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:603529 - "The results showed that silymarin enhanced liver regeneration by accelerating the cell cycle in PHx liver. Silymarin led to increased G1 phase (cyclin D1/pRb), S phase (cyclin E/E2F), G2 phase (cyclin B), and M phase (cyclin A) protein and mRNA at 6 hrs, 24 hrs, and 72 hrs PHx. HGF, TGFα, and TGFβ1 growth factor expressions were also enhanced. We suggest that silymarin plays a crucial role in accelerated liver regeneration after PHx"
  • Silibinin Combination with Arsenic Strongly Inhibits Survival and Invasiveness of Human Prostate Carcinoma Cells - Nutr Cancer. 2015 Apr 14:1-12 - "these in vitro findings suggest that in presence of arsenic, silibinin strongly inhibits tumorigenic and metastatic potential of PCa cells" - Note:  I don't think I'd risk killing myself with arsenic but silymarin is something I take everyday.
  • Silibinin inhibits acetylcholinesterase activity and amyloid β peptide aggregation: a dual-target drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease - Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Feb 11 - "these data suggest that silibinin could act as a dual inhibitor of AChE and Aβ peptide aggregation, therefore suggesting a therapeutic strategy for AD treatment"
  • Hepatoprotective Effects of Silybum marianum (Silymarin) and Glycyrrhiza glabra (Glycyrrhizin) in Combination: A Possible Synergy - Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:641597 - "silymarin (SLN) and glycyrrhizin (GLN) ...Treatment with various doses of SLN and GLN significantly reduced ALT, AST, ALP, and TBARS levels and increased GSH, SOD, and CAT levels. Our findings indicated that SLN and GLN have hepatoprotective effects against oxidative stress of the liver" - See silymarin at Amazon.com and glycyrrhizin products at Amazon.com.
  • Silibinin Inhibits Tumor Promotional Triggers and Tumorigenesis Against Chemically Induced Two-Stage Skin Carcinogenesis in Swiss Albino Mice: Possible Role of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation - Nutr Cancer. 2013 Dec 23 - "Silibinin is a major bioactive flavonolignan present in milk thistle (Silybum marianum) that possesses antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and anticarcinogenic activity ... We found that topical application of silibinin at the dose of 9 mg/mouse effectively suppressed oxidative stress and deregulated activation of inflammatory mediators and tumorigenesis. Thus, findings of the present study suggest that the chemopreventive effect of silibinin is associated with upregulation of endogenous cytoprotective machinery and down regulation of inflammatory mediators (nitric oxide, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, interleukin -1β, COX-2, iNOS, and NF-κB)"
  • Silymarin Improves Vascular Function of Aged Ovariectomized Rats - Phytother Res. 2013 Sep 30 - "Both aging and estrogen depletion lead to endothelial dysfunction, which is the main reason of many cardiovascular diseases ... silymarin (SM) ... In spite of the presence of estrogen antagonist, immediate SM treatment restored the endothelial function and vascular tone better than estrogen replacement. Additionally, as a complementary and alternative medicine, it does not cause estrogenic side effects when taken acutely"
  • Silibinin reverses drug resistance in human small-cell lung carcinoma cells - Cancer Lett. 2013 Jul 20 - "The possible synergistic relationship between silibinin and chemotherapy drugs was determined by exposure of VPA17 cells to 1:1 ratios of their respective IC50 values, with serial dilutions at 0.25-2.0 x IC50 and calculation of the combination index (CI). Silibinin and etoposide showed synergism (CI = 0.46 at ED50), as did silibinin and doxorubicin (CI = 0.24 at ED50). These data indicate that in SCLC, silibinin is pro-apoptotic, reverses MDR and acts synergistically with chemotherapy drugs. Silibinin, a non-toxic natural product may be useful in the treatment of drug-resistant SCLC"
  • Chemopreventive and anti-cancer efficacy of silibinin against growth and progression of lung cancer - Nutr Cancer. 2013;65 Suppl 1:3-11 - "Successful studies conducted so far, have established that silibinin is effective both alone and in combination with other agents (e.g., chemotherapeutic and epigenetic agents) in significantly inhibiting the growth of lung cancer cells"
  • Silibinin inhibits tumor growth through down-regulation of ERK and Akt in vitro and in vivo in human ovarian cancer cells - J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Apr 9 - "These results indicate that silibinin reduces tumor growth through inhibition of ERK and Akt in human ovarian cancer cells. These data suggest that silibinin may serve as a potential therapeutic agent for human ovarian cancers"
  • In vitro and in vivo anticancer efficacy of silibinin against human pancreatic cancer BxPC-3 and PANC-1 cells - Cancer Lett. 2012 Sep 26 - "Silibinin suppresses the growth of many cancers; however, its efficacy against pancreatic cancer has not been evaluated in established preclinical models. Here, we investigated in vitro and in vivo effects of silibinin against lower and advanced stages of human pancreatic carcinoma cells ... Overall, these findings show both in vitro as well as in vivo anticancer efficacy of silibinin against pancreatic cancer that could involve inhibition of cell proliferation, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis induction and/or decrease in tumor angiogenesis"
  • Silymarin Decreases Connective Tissue Growth Factor to Improve Liver Fibrosis in Rats Treated with Carbon Tetrachloride - Phytother Res. 2012 Aug 30 - "connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) ... The results suggest that oral administration of silymarin protects against CCl(4) -induced hepatic fibrosis in rats, likely due to the decrease in fibrotic parameters such as CTGF"
  • Silibinin attenuates allergic airway inflammation in mice - Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Jul 26 - "Our data support the utility of silibinin as a potential medicine for the treatment of asthma"
  • Silibinin inhibits the toxic aggregation of human islet amyloid polypeptide - Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Feb 14 - "In type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), misfolded human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) forms amyloid deposits in pancreatic islets. These amyloid deposits contribute to the dysfunction of β-cells and the loss of β-cell mass in T2DM patients. Inhibition of hIAPP fibrillization has been regarded as a potential therapeutic approach for T2DM. Silibinin, a major active flavonoid extracted from herb milk thistle (Silybum marianum), has been used for centuries to treat diabetes in Asia and Europe with unclear mechanisms ... Our results provide first evidence that silibinin inhibits hIAPP fibrillization via suppressing the toxic oligomerization of hIAPP and enhances the viability of pancreatic β-cells, therefore silibinin may serve as a potential therapeutic agent for T2DM"
  • Silibinin prevents amyloid beta peptide-induced memory impairment and oxidative stress in mice - Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 22 - "Silibinin (silybin), a flavonoid derived from the herb milk thistle (Silybum marianum), has been shown to have antioxidative properties; however, it remains unclear whether silibinin improves Abeta-induced neurotoxicity ... Silibinin prevented the memory impairment induced by Abeta(25-35) in the Y-maze and novel object recognition tests. Repeated treatment with silibinin attenuated the Abeta(25-35)-induced accumulation of malondialdehyde and depletion of glutathione in the hippocampus ... Silibinin prevents memory impairment and oxidative damage induced by Abeta(25-35) and may be a potential therapeutic agent for Alzheimer's disease"
  • The Effect of a Silybin-Vitamin E-Phospholipid Complex on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Pilot Study - Dig Dis Sci. 2007 Apr 5 - "silybin conjugated with vitamin E and phospholipids could be used as a complementary approach to the treatment of patients with chronic liver damage"