Habitat ► Western Himalayas at 1,800 and Kashmir at 2,400 m, also grown in gardens.
English ► Holy Thistle, Milk Thistle.
Action ► Seeds—liver protective, gallbladder protective, antioxidant. Used in jaundice and other biliary affections, intermittent fevers, uterine trouble, also as a galactagogue. Alcoholic extract used for haemorrhoids and as a general substitute for adrenaline. Seeds are used for controlling haemorrhages. Leaves—sudorific and aperient. Young leaves and flowering heads are consumed by diabetics.
Key application ► In dyspeptic complaints. As an ingredient of formulations for toxic liver damage; chronic inflammatory liver disease and hepatic cirrhosis induced by alcohol, drugs or toxins. (Expanded Commission E Monographs, WHO.)
The seeds gave silymarin (flavanol lignin mixture), composed mainly of silybin A, silybin B (mixture known as silibinin), with isosilybin A, isosilybin B, silychristin, silydianin. In Germany, Milk Thistle has been used extensively for liver diseases and jaundice. Sily-marin has been shown conclusively to exert an antihepatotoxic effect in animals against a variety of toxins, particularly those of death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides. Silybin, when given by intravenous injection to human patients up to 48 hours after ingestion of the death cap, was found to be highly effective in preventing fatalities.
Silymarin has been used successfully to treat patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis; it is active against hepatitis B virus, and lowers fat deposits in the liver in animals.
(For hepatic cirrhosis: 420 mg per day; for chronic active hepatitis 240 mg twice daily—extract containing 7080% silimarin.)
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