Researchers conducted a study on 51 diabetics to determine the effects of milk thistle, and specifically an active constituent (flavolignans), on blood glucose levels.

The Milk thistle may help diabetics as a medicinal herb for over 2000 years according to researchers. This plant comes from the daisy family and is found in the Middle East, some parts of Europe and North Africa. The plant is found to be exceptionally beneficial for treating problems related to the liver. Scientific research is being carried out in many parts of the world to determine the actual extent of medicinal benefits that the milk thistle has to offer.

Various Types of Milk Thistle

There are two different varieties of Milk Thistle- the Silybum viburnum and Silybum marianum. The latter is also called the Blessed Milk Thistle and is more commonly used than the first range. A hybrid of the two varieties is also commonly found in many parts of the world. The leaves of this plant contain a sap that is whitish and milky, hence the name of the thistle. They are waxy in texture and large sized with thorns, similar to most other thistles.

Liver Tonic

Milk thistle may help diabetics because of its beneficial effects on the liver. The extract of the milk thistle plant is used as a liver tonic with very good results. The herb protects the liver and boosts its functioning to a great degree. People suffering from problems such as liver cirrhosis or hepatitis find this herb a great help.

Gall bladder problems and liver damage caused by toxins can also be effectively treated with the proper dosage of milk thistle. For those who work in conditions where toxic chemicals affect their liver’s functioning, ingesting milk thistle is a safe and easy way to curb the adverse effects of such exposure. Even patients in whom cancer treatment has caused some liver damage find the use of this herb very beneficial.

Other Medicinal Benefits

A more common disease that is often treated with this herb is jaundice. Ingesting milk thistle not only brings the patient’s liver function back on line but also boosts his/ her appetite. Also, this plant can also treat mushroom poisoning quite effectively. Diabetes, Malaria, problems related to the uterus are all treated with this herb.

Milk thistle is also found effective in eliminating the effects of a hangover. It is used to lower cholesterol levels and to reduce resistance to insulin in diabetics who have liver cirrhosis.

How is it Used?

Milk thistle leaves may be added to salads and consumed on a regular basis along with food. Even the seeds of the plant are found quite beneficial. These are roasted and made into a decoction. Traditional extract from milk thistle is made from the seeds.


The roots can be consumed in raw form although most people prefer to boil or roast them. As the leaves make a good substitute for spinach, they are taken in raw form too, after the prickles are removed.

With the innumerable benefits, it offers, it is not surprising that milk thistle is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs in the world. Although it is not very commonly found in the U.S., extracts and powders are available here for treating many different ailments.