How to take milk thistle

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How to take milk thistle
Purple milk thistle flowers in the wild. (mrfotos/iStock/Getty Images)

Having a healthy liver is crucial to well-being. Milk thistle, a herb known for its liver loving properties, is widely available and easy to take. Silymarin and other substances in milk thistle are thought to protect the liver from damage caused by toxins, viruses, alcohol and some prescription drugs. Milk thistle aids digestion, improves mood and may also protect the body from cancer. Milk thistle is easy to grow and takes a year to mature. It's native to Europe, but grows all over the world.

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Things you need

  • Milk thistle capsules, tincture or dried herb
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Sip a cup of milk thistle tea. The herb is usually available as packaged tea. If not, put two tablespoons of crushed milk thistle leaves and seeds in a muslin bag or tea ball. Brew in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes and sip slowly. Add honey and peppermint to sweeten, if desired. Milk thistle tea is fabulous to drink before or after a meal. It aids digestion and is also known to stabilise insulin levels and reduce cholesterol.

  2. 2

    Take a supplement. Milk thistle is available at many health food shops and supermarkets in capsule form. Silymarin is not easily absorbed by the body so taking a concentrated capsule is most effective. Capsules offer a standardised amount of silymarin. The recommended dose is two to three capsules a day for an adult. Take milk thistle with a glass of water.

  3. 3

    Dilute 10 drops of milk thistle tincture in a glass of water. Take three to five times daily. A tincture is a herb extract in alcohol or another liquid. Tinctures are available at health food shops and from herbalists. You can make your own tincture by putting two cups of dried milk thistle and seeds in a large glass pickling jar. Cover the herbs with either brandy or vodka and screw on the lid. Let the jar sit in a cool, dry place. The herbs must be covered and soaked in alcohol at all times. Check the jar every two days and add more alcohol if the herbs have absorbed the alcohol. Let this mixture sit for three weeks and shake the jar occasionally. After three weeks, strain the liquid into a dropper bottle. The tincture will last for one year.

  4. 4

    Grind up milk thistle seeds in a coffee grinder to make a powder. Add one tablespoon of powder to fruit juice or water and drink it twice a day.

Tips and warnings

  • Try adding milk thistle to your daily herbal infusion. Mix it with you camomile tea or other caffeine-free herbal tea.
  • Side effects from milk thistle are rare, but always check with a doctor before taking something new.
  • If you're taking other medications or herbs, ask a doctor before adding milk thistle to your regimen.
  • Do not use if you are pregnant.

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