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Milk Thistle Extract and Detoxification

Sep 11, 2017

Enhancing the Power of Milk Thistle Extract

There is a long list of plants that exert beneficial effects on liver function. However, the most impressive research has been done on extracts of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) concentrated for silymarin. These flavonoid compounds exert tremendous effect on protecting the liver from damage as well as enhancing detoxification processes.

Milk thistle extract is not only capable of protecting the liver from damage, it actually regenerates new, healthy liver cells to replace the old damaged ones. And it’s not just the liver that milk thistle helps. Research has also found that milk thistle extract can help repair and regenerate kidney cells, increasing kidney cell replication by 25%-30%.

Milk Thistle Extract Aids Detoxification

One of the key manners in which milk thistle extract enhances detoxification reactions is preventing the depletion of glutathione. The level of this valuable compound within the liver is critically linked to the liver’s ability to detoxify. The higher the glutathione content, the greater the liver’s capacity to detoxify harmful chemicals. Typically, when we are exposed to chemicals which can damage the liver including alcohol, the concentration of glutathione in the liver is substantially reduced. This reduction in glutathione makes the liver cell susceptible to damage. Milk thistle extract not only prevents the depletion of glutathione induced by alcohol and other toxic chemicals, but has been shown to increase the level of glutathione of the liver by up to 35%. Since the ability of the liver to detoxify is largely related to the level of glutathione in the liver, the results of this study seem to indicate that milk thistle extract can increase detoxification reactions by up to 35%.

Enhancing the Power of Milk Thistle Extract

The best form of milk thistle utilizes the Phytosome® technology to bind silybin the key component of silymarin to phosphatidylcholine. This fatty substance is produced from sunflower oil and is also key component of our cellular membranes throughout the body. Phosphatidylcholine is not merely an emulsifier or carrier of the silybin, it has also been shown to promote liver health by helping to repair cell membranes. Hence, these two components of Siliphos® work in a synergistic way to protect and repair liver cells. Scientific research indicates that Siliphos® is better able to accomplish this goal than regular milk thistle extracts because it is better absorbed and has the added benefit of the phosphatidylcholine. 

The absorption advantage of Siliphos® has been shown in several human and animal studies when it has been compared to an equal amount of silybin in regular milk thistle extracts. In one study, the excretion of silybin in the bile was evaulated in patients undergoing gallbladder removal because of gallstones. A special drainage tube, the T-tube, was used to get the samples of bile necessary. Patients were given either a single oral dose of Siliphos® or silymarin from milk thistle extract. The amount of silybin recovered in the bile within 48 hours was 11% for the Siliphos® group and 3% for silymarin group. 

One of the significant features of this study is the fact that silybin has been shown to improve the solubility of the bile. Since more silybin is being delivered to the liver and gallbladder when the phosphatidylcholine-bound silybin is used, this form is the ideal form to support liver health in individuals with poor bile solubility seen in such conditions as gallstones or fatty-infiltration of the liver – two conditions characterized by decreased bile solubility. 

In another study designed to assess the absorption of Siliphos® plasma silybin levels were determined after administration of single oral doses of Siliphos® and a similar amount of silybin from milk thistle extract to 9 healthy volunteers. The authors concluded Siliphos® was absorbed roughly 7 times greater than regular milk thistle extracts standardized to contain silymarin (70-80%). 

Better absorption equals better results

Several human clinical studies have also shown Siliphos® to produce better results than regular silymarin extracts in supporting improved liver function. In one study of 232 patients with chronic hepatitis (viral, alcohol, or drug induced) given Siliphos® at a dosage either 120 mg twice daily or 120 mg three times daily for up to 120 days, liver function returned to normal faster in the patients taking Siliphos® compared to those given a commercially available milk thistle extract standardized to contain 70% silymarin; 117 untreated or given placebo). 

In another study designed primarily to evaluate the dose-response relationship of Siliphos®, positive effects were again displayed at a level better than those reported for milk thistle extracts containing 70-80% silymarin. In the study, patients with chronic hepatitis due to either a virus or alcohol were given different doses of Siliphos®: 20 patients received 80 mg twice daily, 20 pts received 120 mg twice daily, and 20 patients received 120 mg three times daily for two weeks. At all tested doses, Siliphos® produced a remarkable and statistically significant decrease of laboratory measurements indicating liver function such as the levels of bilirubin and liver enzymes (e.g., ALT, GGTP, etc.). These results indicate that even short-term use of Siliphos® can improve liver health. 

Final Comments

Detoxification of harmful substances is a continual process in the body. The ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins largely determines an individual’s health status. A number of toxins (heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, microbial toxins, etc.) are known to cause significant health problems. Milk thistle extracts standardized for silymarin content (usually 70-80%) can dramatically improve the liver’s ability to detoxify harmful compounds and function more optimally. However, Siliphos®, is proving to be even more useful in this goal. For general support for the liver and detoxification, 100-120 mg of Siliphos® is recommended. No adverse effects or significant drug interactions have been shown with Siliphos®.

References:

  1. Kidd P, Head K. A review of the bioavailability and clinical efficacy of milk thistle phytosome: a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (Siliphos). Altern Med Rev. 2005 Sep;10(3):193-203.
  2. Barzaghi N, Crema F, Gatti G, et al. Pharmacokinetic studies on IdB 1016, a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex, in healthy human subjects. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 1990;15:333-338. 

  3. Schandalik R, Perucca E. Pharmacokinetics of silybin following oral administration of silipide in patients with extrahepatic biliary obstruction. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1994;20:37-42. 

  4. Vailati A, Aristia L, Sozze E, et al. Randomized open study of the dose-effect relationship of a short course of IdB 1016 in patients with viral or alcoholic hepatitis. Fitoterapia 1993;94:219-228.
  5. Buzzelli G, Moscarella S, Barbagli S, et al. Therapeutic effect of silipide in patients with chronic hepatitis C non-responders (NRs) to interferon (IFN) treatment. J Hepatol 1994;21:17.
  6. Orlando R, Fragasso A, Lampertico M, et al. Silybin kinetics in patients with liver cirrhosis: a comparative study of a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex and silymarin. Med Sci Res 1990;18:861-863.
  7. Marcelli R, Bizzoni P, Conte D, et al. Randomized controlled study of the effecacy and tolerability of a short course of IdB 1016 in the treatment of chronic persistent hepatitis. Eur Bull Drug Res 1992;1:131- 135.
  8. Buzzelli G, Moscarella S, Giusti A, et al. A pilot study on the liver protective effect of silybin- phosphatidylcholine complex (IdB1016) in chronic active hepatitis. Int J Clin Pharmacol er Toxicol 1993;31:456-460.
  9. Flaig TW, Gustafson DL, Su LJ, et al. A phase I and pharmacokinetic study of silybin-phytosome in prostate cancer patients. Invest New Drugs 2007;25:139-146.

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