Saturday, April 4, 2009

Milk Thistle Extract

The consumer needs some information when shopping for milk thistle extract. This article provides that information. Herbal supplements are not well regulated. There are no specific standardized formulas that supplement manufacturers must use, even though it is known which formulas are most effective. Here's how to identify an effective product and get the most benefit for your money.

To start with, the label should list the silymarin content, not just the amount of extract that is included in each capsule. Silymarin is believed to be the active component of the herbal remedy. The best supplements provide 85mg of silymarin per 100mg of extract.

The supplement should be derived from the seeds of the plant. Some wholesale manufacturers process the entire plant, roots and all. The stems, roots and other parts of the plant have no medicinal value. The seeds must be ripe when they are processed. The silymarin content rises, as the seeds ripen naturally on the plant. If the manufacturer harvests the seeds too early, they will be less effective.

The benefits of milk thistle extract have mostly to do with the health of the liver. They are beneficial to people with diseases that affect the organ, but new research has shown that the extracts have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activity. They were recently shown to protect the cells of the heart from damage, as well.

Many plants and nutrients have similar health benefits. It appears that we may be able to avoid a host of diseases and live a much longer life, if we strive to include more plant foods in our daily diets and take a variety of supplements. But, the supplements must be properly formulated or there will be no benefit.

The silymarin in milk thistle extract has low bio-availability, meaning that it is not readily absorbed in the bloodstream. When you are comparing supplements, you should be sure that the manufacturer includes an enteric coating on the tablet to protect it from stomach acid and lecithin should be an added ingredient.

Lecithin, found in soy and other foods, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. It is beneficial for depression, anxiety, gallbladder disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, eczema, and brain function. It also enhances the bio-availability of silymarin.

Before you buy milk thistle extract, check out the manufacturers' website. They should test each raw ingredient for contaminants. If the farmers use pesticides or herbicides, the residue may remain on the seeds. They should test each batch for purity and potency. At times, supplements have had to be recalled because they caused serious illnesses. Recalls are only necessary when manufacturers do not test each completed batch for purity.

The best supplements provide a variety of different nutrients, because man can not live on silymarin, alone. You may be surprised by how much better you feel if you start to increase your nutrient intake. While there are many things that milk thistle extract may be able to do for you, it is only one of many important ingredients to look for. Take the time to learn about some of the others.

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