Liver pills that really works !
Whose liver needs help? Just about everybody’s Liver damage is a plague of modern life. Here s nature’s way of curing it.
Pity your poor liver. All those awful poisons you take in must pass through this chemical factory of detoxification. If the toxins are more than your liver can handle, liver incredibly important organ can eventually shut down. Even if, like most Americans, you don’t worry much about your liver, you should. Your liver is burdened by the toxic offspring of modern civilization: environmental chemicals, air pollutants, pesticides, auto exhaust, prescription and nonprescription drugs, and alcohol, all of which can inflict severe unexpected liver injury. Indeed, alcohol causes 80 percent of all liver disease in Western countries. Even moderate drinkers frequently have a fatty liver, indicating incipient liver damaged, you will find little hope for recovery in conventional mainstream medicine. The treatments of choice: powerful steroids and immuno suppressant’s, and, as a last resort, liver transplant
That’s why if you drink a little more alcohol than you should; or take drugs that can damage your liver, such as cholesterol-lowering medications, acetaminophen, and antidepressants; or use pesticides; or work around industrial chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride; or already have signs of impaired liver function, you should know about the marvelous seeds of a special plant called silybum maranum, or milk thistle. This herb is natures answer to modern life’s constant bombardment of the body by toxic substances.
In Europe, where the liver gets more attention and respect and people vigorously guard the liver with tonics and treatments, milk thistle is a popular botanical liver medicine supported by solid scientific evidence showing it can reverse liver damage, regenerating cells and large areas of liver tissue. Most of the research has been done in Germany, where the herb is government endorsed as a supportive treatment for chronic inflammatory liver conditions and cirrhosis.
Milk thistle deserves serious attention as a way to fore stall a liver catastrophe brought on by the perils of modern life. The herb could be your best hope miracle cure or for avoiding the need for a miracle cure.
What is it?
Milk thistle, as its name implies, is a weed, a thistle topped by a prickly purplish flower containing seeds, packed with potent pharmacological benefits to the liver. It has been long heralded as a liver medicine; pliny, the first century Roman naturalist, recommended it, as did doctors in the middle ages and well into twentieth century, until its recent revival, thanks to groundbreaking research in Germany.
What’s the Evidence?
In the 1970s German researchers at the University of Munich validated milk thistles along reputation as a hepatic folk medicine by identifying its liver-protecting pharmacological agents in the seeds or fruits of the flower and even detailing how they work against the most lethal liver toxins known. In a landmark series of studies, they showed that feeding rats a slow-acting liver destroying chemical killed 100 percent of them in 130 days. But when animals simultaneously got milk thistle, 70 percent of them survived!
Since then, more than 200 experimental and clinical studies suggest that thistle is effective therapy for various liver diseases, including fatty liver common in even moderate alcohol consumers acute and chronic hepatitis, damage from drugs and exposure to toxic chemicals, and even advanced cirrhosis, which is usually irreversible and for which few pharmaceutical drug do any good at all. One large scale German study in 1992 reported phenomenal benefits from milk thistle in 2,637 patients with liver disorders, such as fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. After eight weeks of taking standardized milk thistle capsules daily, 63 percent of the patients said their symptoms (nausea, fatigue, lack of appetite, abdominal distention) had disappeared. Lab tests confirmed that elevated liver enzymes, a sign of liver damage, had declined dramatically, as much as 46 percent. Further,27 percent of enlarged livers had returned to normal size, and 56 percent had dramatically shrunk in size. Moreover, less than 1 percent of the milk thistle takers stopped taking the herb because of side effects, such as stomach upset, nausea, and light diarrhea.
REVERSING ALCOHOL DAMAGE
Milk thistle; fortunately, most strongly address the problem exactly where it is most needed. It does its best work in cells damaged by alcohol. According to research, it actually helps rebuild the ruined architecture of wounded liver cells, returning them to functional health. In one well conducted (double-blind) study of 116 individuals with alcohol-induced liver damage, German researchers tested milk thistle in doses of 420 milligrams a day. The herb had a profound curative within two weeks, as measured by favorable changes in enzymes, the markers of toxic liver cell damage. Indeed, investigators noticed improvement within seven days. Thus milk thistle helped restore normal liver function and curtail the course of disease, researcher’s concluded. In another similarly high quality study published in German medical journal in 1981, investigators tested milk thistle in twenty-nine individuals with alcohol –induced liver disorders, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. The users improved significantly after two months on milk thistle, as shown by liver function tests. They also were much stronger, with better appetites and less nausea. In another investigation of fifty seven patients with fatty liver, in those cases due to alcohol abuse, milk thistle depressed elevated GOT enzyme levels, a sign of liver damage, by 80 percent.
WHAT ABOUT HEPATITIS?
There’s good evidence that milk thistle can help speed recovery in cases of hepatitis caused by a virus or alcohol. According to German research, milk thistle helped heal hepatitis B, the common form of hepatitis, most often resulting from a virus. It may also be successful in treating hepatitis C; studies to confirm it are under way. Considerable evidence shows that milk thistle helps in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. In a string of German studies, doctors gave patients with such hepatitis 420 milligrams of silymarin (milk thistle) daily for an average of nine months; it reversed liver injury, as measured by biopsy and decreased blood transaminase levels; transaminase is a liver enzyme that is elevated in hepatitis and is a primary marker of the intensity of the disease. Researchers deemed milk thistle effective for chronic hepatitis.
Italian investigators have also tested a relatively new milk thistle product, said to be particularly readily absorbed; silybin, the most highly active component of silymarin, combined with another chemical, phosphatidylcholine, and is known as IdB 1016 or Silipide. In 1993 it was tested on sixty patients with either viral or alcohol-induced chronic hepatitis by researchers at the Institute of clinical Medicine in Florence and produced remarkable decreases in enzymes resulting in greatly improved liver function. In a small test of eight older patients with chronic active hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the same milk thistle product improved liver function, as determined by enzyme levels, by 15 percent.
WILL IT WORK FOR CIRRHOSIS?
Milk thistle does not seem to reverse advanced cirrhosis in which in which symptoms are evident, such as ascites (abdominal accumulation of fluid) and esophageal or rectal bleeding. However, studies of excellent design (double-blind) have found that long-term use of milk thistle does slow down progression of the disease, which causes about 30000 deaths in the United States annually. When taking milk thistle, cirrhotic patients are apt to survive longer, researchers have found, as illustrated by one large German study in 1987 involving 170 patients with cirrhosis. For two years the patients got either 420 milligrams of silymarin a day or an inactive placebo pill. After two years the death rate of those getting the dummy pill was a striking 60 percent higher than that of those on milk thistle. The herb worked best in those with cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse.
Obviously milk thistle works best in cirrhosis when alcohol is eliminated. You can’t continue to damage a weakened cirrhotic liver with alcohol and count on the herb to save you.
If you’re taking pharmaceutical drugs, milk thistle may counter some of the drugs ability to harm your liver. In an Italian test of sixty women in a hospital psychiatric ward, 400 milligrams of silymarin twice a day for three months softened the liver-damaging effects of the psychotropic drugs phenothiazines and butyrophenones, which they had been taking for at least five years. Milk thistle appears protective against the liver toxicity of acetaminophen or Tylenol. The analgesic in high doses can damage liver cells. According to Canadian and German studies in human cells, milk thistle blocks the drugs toxicity. In mice the herb has also inhibited damage from acetaminophen and the anticancer drug cisplatin.
There is good news for those who work around hazardous chemicals and breathe the vapors: milk thistle helps protect against liver damage. About 25 percent of a group of 200 Hungarian workers in a chemical plant who had been exposed to toluene and xylene vapors for five to twenty years showed signs of liver damage. Some of them were given milk thistle for thirty days; others were not. Liver function test found a definite improvement in the herb takers.
WHAT ABOUT CANCER?
Chronic inflammatory hepatitis is often a prelude to liver cancer, thus treating the inflammation, as milk thistle could, would be expected to help stop the development of cancer. Whether milk thistle can help treat liver cancer, a particularly difficult cancer, is unknown. Some people, as reported on the internet, are using milk thistle to treat liver cancer, but no studies have been done to test its effectiveness.
The herb has protected mice from kidney and skin cancer. Incidentally it has been noted that milk thistle stimulates regeneration of only healthy cells, not cancerous cells. Thus it would not be expected to encourage the spread of cancer. In Germany some doctors do recommend milk thistle to patients with liver cancer, believing it can do no harm and might help, especially in case where mainstream medicine has little to offer.
THE CARPENTERS MIRACLE
The Case of the Vanishing Liver Cancer
When the fifty-two-year-old German carpenter checked into a hospital at the University of Munich in July 1990, there was little doubt he had liver cancer. A CAT scan clearly showed a large tumor (measuring 4.5 centimeters) on the right lobe of his liver, and a biopsy confirmed extensive cancer in the right lobe, which had already spread to the left lobe. The man was a heavy drinker and smoker; he said he had drunk about 3 liters of beer every day for twenty years and smoked twenty cigarettes a day since adolescence. The team of treating physicians, including Mathis Grossmann, M.D., now at the University of Maryland Medical Biotechnology Center, deemed surgery useless because the cancer was so advanced. They discharged the patient, expecting him to die rather quickly survive only three to six months.
Thus the doctors were quite surprised when a year later, in June 1991, he showed up at the hospital again, looking much better. He had not smoked or drunken alcohol for a year, ever since the cancer was diagnosed, he said. He had not gained 16 pounds and said he felt well. Most astonishing, the liver cancer had vanished. The physicians could find no trace of it. Ultrasound detected no tumor, and a CAT scan found only the tissue where the previous massive tumor was located found no malignancy. The cancer had totally regressed, shrunk, disappeared. Such spontaneous remission of any cancer is “rare phenomenon,” his doctors said, occurring only once in 60,000 to 100.000 patients. Only eight cases of complete regression of liver cancer have ever been published in the entire world medical literature, the doctors noted.
So what happened? What made the liver cancer go away? Was there anything unusual that prompted this “spontaneous remission “? The doctors were intrigued and perplexed, and offered this speculation: maybe in some weird way the cancer starved to death. Or maybe the cessation of alcohol and smoking had other eventuality to be considered, they said: right after the victim left the hospital with his incurable liver cancer in 1990; he started taking a dose of 450 milligrams of silymarin, or milk thistle, daily, prescribed by his local physician. He had downed it religiously, he said, every day for eleven months. His doctors know of no other successes in treating liver cancer with milk thistle and could find none in the medical literature. Could it be more than coincidence? Did the milk thistle help cure the cancer? Nobody knows. But the doctors agreed that trying milk thistle is reasonable in cases of incurable liver cancer, since it cannot be harmful. And the herb is known to neutralize free radicals and regenerate liver cells.
Unfortunately the carpenter who seemed to have cured his own liver cancer nevertheless died in 1991 of medical complications from an unrelated primary stomach cancer. This does not negate milk thistles possible anticancer role in the liver. One would not expect the herb to fight off all types of cancer, since its primary activity is in the liver.
How Does It Work?
Milk thistles active components are a complex of antioxidant bioflavonoids know as silymarin. This unique antioxidant complex exerts its curative powers by both preventing damage to healthy liver cells and stimulating a regeneration of injured liver cells, according to extensive research. Specifically, silymarin stands guard on outer receptor sites of cells, barring toxins from breaking through fatty cell membranes and entering cell interiors. It also neutralizes toxic substances that manage to penetrate cells.
Moreover, it has a unique ability to stimulate protein synthesis in liver cells by increasing genetic (DNA and RNA) activity. This actually helps regenerate damaged cells. Additionally, milk thistle revs up other antioxidant defenses in liver cells to neutralize toxic invaders. For example, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body and a major detoxifying substance in the liver is glutathione. In healthy humans silymarin has boosted glutathione concentrations in the liver by 35 percent. Milk thistle also spurs activity of another potent antioxidant, superoxide dismutase, in cells of people with liver disease. Interestingly, this antioxidant appears to be particularly geared to scavenging the type of damaging free radical chemicals that chemical those are generated by alcohol in the liver.
A MIRACLE MUSHROOM EXPERIMENT
One way scientists know milk thistle works for sure is that it has saved many people from extinction by the deadly amanita mushroom, also called the death cap. In 1981 German researcher dr. G Vogel of the university of Munich conducted a study of forty-nine patients throughout Europe from Germany , Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France who had been poisoned by the mushroom; they were all given injections of milk thistles active chemicals daily in additions of their regular treatments. Dr. Vogel rightly praised the results as ranging from “amazing to spectacular” Ordinarily the death rate from the poisonous mushroom is 30 to 40 percent. Milk thistle reduced the death rate to zero. Not a single patient died, although victims were usually treated two or three days after the poisoning. This, he said, shows that milk thistle interfered with the circulation of the poison in the liver cells, protecting them from further damage and healing already damaged.
How Much Do You Need?
Milk thistle extract usually come as a pill and occasionally as syrup. The standardized milk thistle extract widely tested in Europe and approved in Germany for liver disease and functional liver impairment contains 70 to 80 percent silymarin. The general recommended dose is 420 milligrams of silymarin taken in three divided doses every day. After you see improvements, as determined by liver function blood tests, you can cut back to a daily dose of 280 milligrams of silymarin. The lower 280 milligrams is also the amount some doctors suggest to help prevent liver dysfunction and damage.
How Quickly Does It Work?
High-quality milk thistle is rapidly adsorbed and reaches maximum concentration in the blood about an hour after it is taken. Amazingly, improvement is often noticeable in five to eight days, with a reduction in enzymes and liver size and a lessening of jaundice, yellowing of the skin. A significant reversal of alcoholic liver damage may take a month or two, studies suggest. Essential in judging recovery are blood tests measuring liver enzyme levels, and liver biopsy. Milk thistle depresses elevated liver enzymes, indicating liver cells are healing. Alcoholic patients generally must continue to take milk thistle extract for several months. Remission of chronic persistent hepatitis has been achieved in six months to a year with thistle.
The Safety Factor
Unlike other drugs that affect the liver, milk thistle causes only mild side effects, such as stomach upset, in less than 1 percent of users, according to studies. Most noted is its mild laxative effect, especially in the first few days of use. There is no evidence that milk thistle is toxic or interacts with other medications. Animal studies find no short-term or long-term toxicity at very high doses, including no adverse impact on reproduction, or mutagenic (pro-cancer) activity. Surprisingly, milk thistle is considered so safe in Germany that there are no government warnings against using it, even during pregnancy and lactation.
Good standardized milk thistle contains 70 percent silymarin.
Should You Try It?
It makes sense if you concerns about potential liver damage if you drink more alcohol than you should, if you have or have had hepatitis or cirrhosis, if you work around industrial chemicals, if you live in an especially polluted environment, and if you are taking pharmaceutical drugs that can cause liver damage, in particular certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Mevacor and Zocor, and certain antidepressants. Indeed, any drug that lists potential liver damage as side effects might be partly offsets by milk thistle extract. If it can strengthen your livers resistance to such perils of modern civilization, it is well worth trying. If you are at high risk of liver toxicity, a reasonable preventive dose is 280 milligrams of silymarin a day. A therapeutic dose is 420 milligrams daily until the problem is resolved, as determined by medical tests.
Caution: if you have been diagnosed with liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, or suspect you may have it, use milk thistle with the supervision of a doctor who can order liver function tests to document that you are improving. Also, it’s imperative to curd alcohol intake if you have liver disease or damage.