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The milk thistle Silybum marianum L. is an annual or hibernating plant in the Asteraceae (Compositae) family. Native to the Mediterranean region, this plant also grows in Central Europe, America and Southern Australia, in dry soils. Its dried fruits are commonly used.
The milk thistle plant contains silymarin (a mixture of 3 flavonolignans: silybin, silydianin and silychristin); flavonoids; an oil containing high levels of linoleic, oleic and palmitic acid; tocopherol and sterols. It also contains a bitter compound, organic acids (fumaric acid), polyines, proteins and small amounts of mucilage.
This plant has the following properties:
• Cholagogue and choleretic;
• Helps regenerate liver cells;
• Useful as a stomach tonic;
• Beneficial in case of excessive food and/or alcohol intake.