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How does milk thistle help in balancing hormones?

How does milk thistle help in balancing hormones?

Nowadays, a high percentage of women are experiencing hormonal imbalances, from PMS to menopause associated symptoms. In recent years, people have started to talk more rigorously about this topic: period pain, symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, etc.

Now we know that the period should not hurt and that if it does it is very possible that we have an excess of estrogens in our body or an imbalance between progesterone and estrogens, for example. We also know that diet and lifestyle significantly influence our hormonal system, therefore, some supplements are being suggested to balance hormones.

Some of the symptoms that can show a hormonal imbalance are:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, stress…
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Variable appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Hair loss or thinning

We will discuss in this article how a 2000 years old herb ‘Milk Thistle’ can maintain a healthy level of hormones.

What is Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a weed-like plant grown in the Mediterranean region and it has a purple flower; it is a relative of flowers daisy and dandelion.

Silymarin is a flavonoid obtained from milk thistle dried fruit. It is the main active ingredient in milk thistle. These two words represent this ancient herb. Silymarin is a flavonoid complex made up of silibinin, silydianin and silicristin. Silymarin is high in antioxidant and inflammatory properties and can help fight against the risk of type2 diabetes. It may also help fight oxidation of healthy cells.

What Are The Main Benefits OF Milk Thistle?

Primarily, milk thistle helps improve liver function. This makes it a great option if you are trying to improve your over all liver health (or just need to recover from a night of drinking!). Additionally, another of the main functions of the liver is to regulate the production of estrogen. Estrogen dominance has it’s own side effects. Some of them include cycle irregularities, weight retention and higher risk of estrogen dominant cancers.

Even though milk thistle is slightly estrogenic, studies have found that it actually helps speed up the metabolism of estrogen. While a bit counterintuitive, in this case it looks like the benefits out-weigh the addition of estrogen to your system!

Another reason people take milk thistle is to improve hormone metabolization by the liver. It’s one of the liver’s jobs to process and eliminate excess sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), hormones made by the adrenal glands, and thyroid hormones. However, if the liver isn’t working well enough to metabolize hormones, imbalances can occur.

Can milk thistle balance hormones?

Any excess hormones we have in our body are detoxified and excreted via the liver and gut, which makes milk thistle an excellent herb to help support hormonal balance. One of the most common symptoms of the menopause is low mood and self-esteem and irritability, thanks to hormonal fluctuations.

Another reason people take milk thistle is to improve hormone metabolization by the liver. It’s one of the liver’s jobs to process and eliminate excess sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), hormones made by the adrenal glands, and thyroid hormones. 

What does milk thistle do to estrogen?

Sure enough: in one recent study, an herbal conglomerate featuring milk thistle as one of the active participants actually increased estrogen metabolism, effectively reducing the amount of active estrogen by speeding up its clearance from the body.

Is milk thistle good for PCOS?

A liver cleansing herb such as milk thistle is very important if you suffer from PCOS. This is because many menstrual problems and infertility concerns are made worse because of the backup of hormones within the liver. Milk thistle will keep your liver working efficiently and will help eliminate toxins and compounds that the body does not require.  

Where can I purchase Milk Thistle?

Milk thistle is hard to find fresh [unless you are foraging it in the wild] so it is most commonly found as an herbal supplement. You can purchase this in either capsule or tincture form.

To be sure that you’re getting ALL the benefits milk thistle has to offer, make sure your supplement is at least 70% silymarin (this is THE active ingredient that improves liver function, after all!) You can buy Milk Thistle capsules, extract, or other supplements. 

Milk thistle seeds are available at apothecaries, health food stores and reputable online sources. If utilising the seed, make sure to grind it in a coffee grinder and sprinkle on any food you don’t mind with a bit of crunch [i.e salads, smoothies].

Conclusion:

This is one of the all-time favourite herbs for a multitude of health conditions. Milk Thistle is one of the best liver cleansing herbs and a healthy liver is vital for hormone balance. Many women have an excess of estrogen and a deficiency of progesterone because of it. What many people don’t know is that body filters out excess estrogens through the liver. If the liver is congested and stagnant the body cannot eliminate these excess estrogens and they re-enter the body. The liver is also the processing plant for our body’s toxic wastes such as chemicals, heavy metals, fungus and other toxins. Many of these toxins can act to mimic hormones in our body and lead to further hormonal imbalance and disruption.

So, here is your new best friend: milk thistle. Not only does it work to support liver renewal it is particularly useful in targeting estrogen dominance. By simply introducing milk thistle into your life, you can work to re-establish the correct balance of hormones, improve the efficiency of your liver function and can start feeling more like yourself again! 

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