Why Milk Thistle Is Good but Silybin Is Better for Liver Health

Milk thistle is an age-old remedy for numerous health problems, including boosting liver health. One of the active compounds in milk thistle, silybin, has been found to work even better for your liver. Here’s why it’s better, and why you want it.

7 minute read

Last Updated June 30, 2020

Why Milk Thistle Is Good but Silybin Is Better for Liver Health

Milk thistle has been used for centuries as a natural treatment for liver disorders. Believed to be able to treat most toxins, including snake venom, milk thistle is a powerful healer.

While medical science has since created antivenin for snakebites, milk thistle remains useful in numerous other ways. Or rather, it is the specific ingredients found in milk thistle that provide the medical and health benefits.

When extracted, these ingredients are more potent than generic milk thistle supplements when it comes to maintaining the health of your liver and helping prevent liver problems.

The Secret Is in the Silybin

Silybin is one of the active ingredients in milk thistle thought to provide healing power for liver diseases. Specifically, it protects against cellular damage in your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. These organs are most often affected by toxins, as they work to clear them from your body.

Silybin works to protect your liver in a few different ways.

♦ Its presence increases cell wall strength, making it more difficult for toxins to cross through into the cell.

♦ It serves as an antioxidant agent, protecting the cells from free radicals and oxidative damage.

♦ It promotes and speeds up the breakdown of toxins in the liver, expediting their expulsion from the body.

The liver can be exposed to toxins as well as viruses, which trigger chronic inflammation and then disease. Silybin extract is a potent ingredient in milk thistle that can best treat the liver in these cases.

By reducing both the inflammation and oxidative damage caused by serious liver diseases, silybin can naturally treat your liver back to good health. It also helps to treat liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption and radiation exposure.

What makes silybin extract more effective than generic milk thistle is that it is more bioavailable. When a substance has high bioavailability, it means your body can absorb it more readily. It’s why silybin can get to work protecting your liver faster.

Studies have found that you need almost ten times the amount of milk thistle to get the same benefits of silybin alone. You need much less silybin and you get far better results.

Silybin and a Better You

Liver disease prevention or treatment is the most common use of milk thistle and, more recently, silybin. Silybin helps to increase the life expectancy of those with liver disease or cirrhosis. Depending on the severity of the condition, different doses of silybin extract are needed, but ultimately, your liver fares better with the additional support.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of silybin in milk thistle offer more than just better liver health. As a regular supplement, you will see additional improvements to your overall health and well-being. Here is why a supplement containing silybin can be so beneficial:

Prevent Insulin Resistance

Milk thistle extracts like silybin have a positive effect on insulin levels. Inflammation is a contributor to insulin resistance and without management, insulin resistance can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome and worse.

Silybin supplements can help to prevent this through their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have found that silybin is just as effective as diabetic medications with regards to decreasing blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance.

Inhibit Cancer

Silybin extracts have been found to fight certain types of cancer, specifically those starting in the epithelial cells of the body. By inhibiting the growth and proliferation of cancer cells, tumors and cancer can be prevented.

Silybin also helps to reduce the side effects of common cancer treatments and allows chemotherapy to work more effectively against cancer cells.

Lower Cholesterol

Studies initially done with diabetics taking milk thistle found that the silybin also affected cholesterol levels. Apart from lifestyle changes, treatments are important in managing cholesterol. The compound appears to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, thereby protecting your heart health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Individuals with diabetes tend to have higher cholesterol levels and increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, so silybin helps to protect them on two fronts.

Better Immunity

Silybin extracts positively affect your immune system by stimulating the neurons that are responsible for controlling the immune response. The antioxidant properties of silybin also help to remove pathogens and toxins from the body that trigger oxidative damage and stress to your immune system.

By enhancing the efficiency of your immune system, you are better protected from disease and illness.

Healthier Skin

Because of the anti-inflammatory properties, topical applications of milk thistle or silybin can provide benefits for certain skin disorders.

In addition to this, the antioxidant properties protect your skin from cellular damage by free radicals, which reduce aging, so you can keep your youthful appearance for longer.

Silybin also prevents the development of inflammation-related related skin conditions, such as psoriasis and acne.

Brain Booster

The protection from free radicals and oxidative damage goes beyond skin and helps your brain too.

Silybin extracts help protect you from cognitive decline associated with oxidative damage. Stress, disease, and poor diet all trigger the release of excess free radicals, which cause oxidative damage and brain tissue deterioration.  

By reducing memory and learning impairment, you have less chance of developing serious neurodegenerative diseases. Milk thistle extracts also reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. High numbers of these plaques in the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s.

Prevent Bone Loss

With age also comes an increased risk of bone density loss and osteoporosis. Silybin works to prevent bone loss related to estrogen deficiency and helps to heal bone fractures.

Bone density loss typically occurs gradually over years, so taking a proactive approach and adding silybin to your diet is a good way to prevent it from happening at all.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to treating or preventing liver disease, you should opt for silybin extract over generic milk thistle to make sure you get better bioavailability and more effective results. As with many medical discoveries, milk thistle’s benefits have long been known but needed some modifications.

Silybin extract is just the next generation for the promotion of optimal liver health. Its inclusion in a liver health supplement is a sure sign of the quality and efficacy of that product.

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