Milk thistle gets its name from the milky sap that comes from the leaves and stems of the plant. The active ingredient in milk thistle is a group of flavonoid compounds called silymarin. These compounds have a strong antioxidant effect on the liver and show an ability to enhance the liver's detoxification process.
The liver is vitally important in detoxifying poisons that enter our bodies, breaking down potentially lethal substances such as alcohol, nicotine, air and water pollution.
Silymarin Boosts Glutathione Levels.
One of the key ways that silymarin enhances the liver's ability to detoxify your body is by preventing the depletion of the important antioxidant glutathione in the liver. Glutathione levels are linked to the liver's capacity to detoxify the body.
Silymarin has been shown to raise glutathione levels in the liver by as much as 35 percent. Some scientists consider glutathione to be the most important antioxidant that you have.
Dosages. To get the most milk thistle benefits, look for a supplement with a standardized preparation of 70-80 percent silymarin. As a preventive measure against liver problems, it is suggested you take 500mg a day for 6-8 weeks. After that, dosage can be lowered to somewhere between 100 and 240mg a day.