This handsome plant has been used for liver ailments for thousands of years, but until recently was one of herbal medicine’s best kept secrets. Silymarin, a constituent of milk thistle, is now listed in The Mereck Index as a liver protector and actually helps to regenerate liver cells and protects against damage by toxins and viruses. Whole seeds of milk thistle or a tincture made from them are now used in the United States as well as Europe for both protection and regeneration of the liver. Milk thistle combines well with dandelion, peppermint or bitters thus combining hepatropic (liver) and choleretic (gallbladder) herbal actions to support better digestion.
When you consider just how important the liver is to overall health, you can understand why this plant is so good for both people and animals. The herb’s antioxidant action protects the liver from a wide variety of poisons by strengthening cell walls to prevent blood toxins from passing into the cell; stimulating the enzymes that make the toxins less harmful to the body; and blocking damaging free radicals from attacking cells. Milk thistle offers antioxidant, anti-cholesterol, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity.
Milk thistle can be used for spring and fall detox routines to keep the body in optimal health. For horses, it can help with transitioning from hey to fresh grass since it increases enzyme production and secretion. In horses or dogs with allergies it can help due to its anti-inflammatory action. If your animals need to be wormed or are on regular medication, feeding milk thistle will help support their liver.
Also see EqineWellness Magazine on Milk Thistle: https://equinewellnessmagazine.com/herb-blurb-milk-thistle/
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