So, you’ve looked into the benefits of milk thistle and you’re keen to give it a go - great! But there is a lot of information out there about the best way to take it and exactly how long to take it for. In this article, we take a look at the different ways to take milk thistle, how much to take, and how long you should be taking it for.April 28, 2022 5:30 pm September 14, 2020 4:30 pm
Taking milk thistle
As a quick recap before we dive into dosage and timings: milk thistle is a plant with sharp, green leaves and an impressive, spiky purple flower.
It has been used for generations as a natural remedy. In fact, people have been using milk thistle as far back as 40 – 90 AD. Dioscorides, a Greek physician and pharmacologist and author of the enormous ‘De Materia Medica’ – an encyclopaedia of plant remedies – mentioned its healing qualities.
Later herbalists described how it helped with liver issues and even ‘melancholy diseases’.(1)
Modern science also has plenty to say about the impressive health benefits of milk thistle. It’s a natural detoxifier and cleanser, and is especially linked to liver health. Some studies have found that it can improve ailments ranging from alcoholic liver disease to hepatitis.(2)
Milk thistle oil is also rich in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps the body fight free radicals. This in turn supports skin and eye health as well as the immune system.
So, now that we’ve established that milk thistle is pretty good for you, let’s look at how and when to take it.
How to take milk thistle
Milk thistle is available in lots of different formats, including as a dietary supplement or capsule. When people decide to give it a try, they often gravitate towards a supplement as the easiest way to take it.
However, while they’re popular, supplement capsules don’t always give you the best transparency over what you’re consuming.
For example, you might not be sure which part of the plant your supplement comes from. The leaves, seeds and fruit all have different nutritional profiles, so might deliver differently on your desired result.
What’s more, supplement capsules themselves are made of a range of ingredients including collagen, gelatine or a plant-based starch.(3) So, if you’re following a vegetarian or plant-based diet, you’ll need to check carefully to make sure your capsules don’t contain animal products.
At Erbology we tend to believe that it’s better to bring health-boosting nutrients into your diet naturally through food. This often gives you better knowledge about what’s actually inside the product you’re taking, and more control over what you put into your body.
If you’ve decided to go with a natural source, you have a couple of options there too.
How to use milk thistle seeds
The most traditional way of taking it is in a tea, tincture or herbal infusion. This can be made using either the leaves or the seeds of the plant. It involves steeping the seeds or leaves in hot water to impart their flavor and health benefits, and then drinking as an infusion.
It might be the way that our ancestors in Bessarabia used to take it, but nowadays getting hold of fresh milk thistle can be difficult!
Some people might find a pre-prepared infusion more convenient. However, again you need to be careful with the ingredients list. Other ingredients might be included in the tea, and you may not be sure what dosage you are actually getting.
If you’d prefer to avoid the headache of sourcing and brewing your own tea, look for an easy way of taking pure milk thistle.
At Erbology, we make two products which extract from the plant in different ways, depending on the benefits you’d like to see.
Milk thistle powder
Our organic milk thistle powder is made from 100% organic milk thistle seeds and nothing else. It’s rich in silymarin, a raw flavonolignan that can improve liver cell regeneration.
'Along with the vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids naturally found in milk thistle seeds, it also fights free radicals and can protect from oxidative damage.'
The seeds are not soluble in water and they have a distinctive, slightly bitter flavor, so the best way to eat our powder is to add it to another food you enjoy. It’s a bit like lemon zest – perhaps you wouldn’t eat a spoonful on its own, but it can bring the most delicious flavor to dishes with complementary flavors!
We recommend adding it to yogurt, soup, or savory dishes like our delicious pumpkin, tofu and sage galette.