Milk thistle which is the common name for the fruit of the plant Silybum marianum (L.) (also known as Silybi mariani fructus), a member of Asteraceae family and native in Mediterranean. It grows 60 to 150 cm high and blossoms with purple daisy heads.
The active of milk thistle is silymarin which is a complex of three isomer flavonolignans as silybin, silydianin, and silychristin. It increases the regenerative ability of the liver cells by enhancing the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Silymarin is the most commonly used as liver protectant or hepatoprotectant. It is also known that it shows antioxidant activity by reducing free radical production and lipid peroxidation.
Milk thistle is used for relief of symptoms of digestive disorders, sensation of fullness and indigestion and to support liver function. Silymarin has been used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis and toxin‐induced liver diseases.