Milk thistle is an herb that is used to protect and heal the liver. So far, studies of the herb in humans have been inconclusive but encouraging. The active component of milk thistle is a substance called silymarin. Like all herbs, milk thistle can vary in potency, making it important to choose a reliable brand. For best results, milk thistle should be standardised to contain 70 to 80 per cent silymarin.
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Nature's Way sells two types of milk thistle capsules: regular milk thistle and Thisilyn Milk Thistle Extract. Both products are standardised to 80 per cent silymarin, but Nature's Way claims that the milk thistle extract in Thisilyn is more easily broken down by the body and therefore more effective.
Jarrow Formulas sells milk thistle capsules standardised to contain 80 per cent silymarin. Each capsule contains 150 milligrams of the herb. Jarrow's production facility is GMP-certified. GMP stands for "Good Manufacturing Practices," and the certification indicates that a third-party, NSF International, inspects the facility to confirm that the manufacturing procedures meet GMP standards.
NOW Foods sells milk thistle capsules that are not standardised. Each capsule contains 150 milligrams of milk thistle extract and 350 milligrams of the spice turmeric, which NOW claims enhances the effects of the milk thistle. The recommended serving size is two capsules.
Gaia Herbs sells two different types of liquid milk thistle extract: regular and low alcohol. They also sell a liquid tincture called "Milk Thistle Yellow Dock Supreme," which contains milk thistle, yellow dock, burdock root, echinacea, sarsaparilla and Oregon grape. Additionally, they sell liquid-filled milk thistle capsules.
Enzymatic Therapy sells four different milk thistle products. Each Simply Milk Thistle capsule contains 150 milligrams of milk thistle extract, standardised to contain 80 per cent silymarin. Super Milk Thistle is actually a blend of herbs: each capsule contains 100 milligrams of milk thistle standardised to 80 per cent silymarin, plus artichoke, dandelion root and liquorice. Milk Thistle X is another blend of these herbs. It contains 150 milligrams of standardised milk thistle extract per capsule, plus dandelion, artichoke and liquorice. Silybin Advanced contains silybin, a component of silymarin, extracted from milk thistle and bound with soy in a process that the company claims enhances absorption. All of Enzymatic Therapy's products are lab-tested to ensure purity and potency.
Swanson Health Products
Swanson Health Products sells a variety of milk thistle products. The company's Full Spectrum Milk Thistle contains 500 milligrams of unstandardized herb per capsule, while the plain Milk Thistle product combines 250 milligrams of standardised milk thistle extract containing 80 per cent silymarin with 250 milligrams of the unstandardized herb. The Siliphos Milk Thistle capsules contain silybin, thought to be the most potent component of silymarin, combined with soy compounds to make it more easily absorbed by the body. The company also sells milk thistle in tincture form, as well as in combination with other herbs.
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