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Silymarin and Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Silymarin: A Detoxing Herb

Silymarin is a flavonoid obtained from milk thistle dried fruit. Since dawn, several herbs and natural remedies have been used to detox our bodies, restore our health and make us immune to several possible diseases. That knowledge has been passed from generation to generation, and now it’s grabbing the attention of modern medical service providers.

Scientific researches prove the effects of those herbs and ancient remedies. Milk Thistle is one of those ancient research that is gaining popularity now. More people are attracted to its healing capacities, especially in liver health and cancer treatments.

Where do we get silymarin?

Milk thistle is a flowering plant of the Mediterranean region; it is a relative of daisy and dandelion flowers. Some people also call it Mary thistle and holy thistle. Silymarin is a flavonoid. It is obtained from milk thistle dried fruit. These two words mean the same product.

Scientific studies suggest that silymarin can protect the liver from toxins and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help maintain a healthy liver and protect it from medicine like Tylenol, which can cause liver damage when given in high doses. Milk Thistle can also assist the liver in repairing itself, helping with new cell growth.

Today it’s available in the market in the form of milk thistle extract or silymarin. You can consume it as a supplement or medicine. More scientific research suggests its various health benefits, including anticancer properties.

Silymarin for liver and hepatocellular carcinoma (Liver Cancer)

The liver is the largest internal organ, and it purifies the blood in our bodies. It absorbs nutrients from food and detoxifies the body. Humans depend heavily on this vital organ. Everything we eat passes through our liver. This includes alcohol, prescription medicine, nutrition, and water. Many of the elements in our intake can be very hard on the liver. Hence, milk thistle helps by protecting the liver in several ways. Its antioxidant properties play an essential role in keeping the liver healthy.

Silymarin protects the liver in both experimental models and clinical studies. The chemopreventive activity of silymarin has shown some efficacy against cancer both in vitro and in vivo. Silymarin can modulate apoptosis in vitro and survival in vivo by interfering with the expression of cell cycle regulators and apoptosis-associated proteins. In addition to its anti-metastatic activity, silymarin also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. The chemoprotective effects of silymarin and silibinin (its principal constituent) suggest they may help reduce the side effects and increase the anti-cancer effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in various cancer types, especially in gastrointestinal cancers. This review examines the recent studies and summarizes the mechanistic pathways and downstream targets of silymarin in treating gastrointestinal cancer.

Primary liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), occurs in a milieu of oxidative stress and inflammation. The aetiology of HCC includes chronic infection with hepatitis B and C viruses, cirrhosis, and exposure to dietary and environmental hepatocarcinogens. Current therapeutic options for HCC, including surgical resection and liver transplantation, have limited benefits and are ineffective.

Chemoprevention, using phytochemicals with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, represents a fascinating strategy which has been a subject of intense investigation in recent years.

Silymarin and Cancer: A dual strategy in both in Chemoprevention and chemosensitivity

Silymarin may play on the system of xenobiotics, metabolising enzymes (phase I and phase II) to protect normal cells against various toxic molecules or harmful effects of chemotherapeutic agents on normal cells. Furthermore, silymarin and its main bioactive compounds inhibit organic anion transporters (OAT) and ATP-binding cassettes (ABC) transporters, thus counteracting potential chemoresistance.

Silymarin and its derivatives play a double role, namely, limiting the progression of cancer cells through different phases of the cycle—thus forcing them to evolve towards a process of cell death—and accumulating cancer cells in a phase of the cell cycle—thus making it possible to target a greater number of tumour cells with a specific anti-cancer agent. silymarin exerts a chemopreventive effect by inducing intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and reactivating cell death pathways by modulation the ratio of proapoptotic/antiapoptotic proteins and synergizing with agonists of death domains receptors. In summary, silymarin may act as a chemopreventive agent and a chemosensitizer through multiple pathways.

How to use silymarin

Silymarin is available on ZenOnco website a milk thistle capsules.

To know about how to take it, please connect with anti-cancer experts on ZenOnco.io. They will guide you on how to take this medicine. Alternatively, you can take 2 capsules per day after a meal. Though we strongly recommend you to connect with an expert before taking it.

Alternatively you can make Milk Thistle Tea at home. It’s available for purchase as loose or ground seeds and leaves or in tea bags.

Steep a tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose tea in 1 cup (237 mL) of hot water for 5–10 minutes. However, If not using a tea bag, strain the tea before drinking it.


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