What is the Best Milk Thistle Supplement Brand in 2017? Unbiased Reviews

The use of Milk Thistle for its medicinal properties has been documented as far back as the Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations. Their use of the plant’s sap and seeds as a remedy for snake bites and depression clearly suggests that it has a beneficial effect in terms of helping the body to manage toxins and in other ways.

So what is the best milk thistle supplement in 2017? We decided to find out.

What Is Milk Thistle?

Milk Thistle is a plant from the same family as the kiwi fruit. It is native to much of Europe, and can also be found in North America where it was introduced by colonists.

The active ingredient is known as silymarin, a combination of different types of flavonoids.

Within the plant, flavonoids give the plant its colors, aid UV filtration, change nitrogen into a form the plant can use, and may also inhibit many diseases.

Let’s take a look at how this translates into benefits for us humans.

Who Needs Milk Thistle?

Perhaps the question here should be ‘who doesn’t need milk thistle?”.

Scientific research has helped us to understand more about the ways milk thistle is used by the body. It is now thought to be helpful in managing a wide variety of different medical conditions.

Liver Function

Milk thistle is most commonly used in managing liver dysfunction; it has been proven useful in slowing down the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

It has also been shown to help chronic inflammatory liver disease and cirrhosis (source), chronic and viral hepatitis (source), as well as having a protective role in looking after our liver (source).

Anti-Inflammatory

The research on milk thistle has also highlighted its anti-inflammatory properties.

It is now used by people with rheumatoid arthritis to reduce joint inflammation.

The active ingredients in milk thistle also reduce the activity of the immune system within joints, reducing the amount of damage caused by the immune system’s attack on the tissues inside the joints, potentially slowing down the progression of the disease (source).

Anti-Inflammatory For Lung Conditions

Milk thistle can also be beneficial for people with lung conditions where there is an element of inflammation, such as asthma. Research has shown silymarin to be effective in treating some inflammatory lung conditions and protects against lung damage (source).

Parkinson’s Disease

Milk thistle’s active ingredients have also been proven to positively affect the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by reducing the inflammation which occurs in specific neurological cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Silymarin reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by reducing the neurotoxic effect of the disease on the body (source).

Diabetes

People with diabetes can also benefit from the active ingredients in milk thistle. Research has shown that silymarin reduces the production of glucose in the body and acts as an insulin sensitizer; it lowers blood sugar by lowering the resistance to insulin within key organs. This essentially makes insulin more effective (source).

Lowers Cholesterol

Research has also shown that silymarin can help to reduce cholesterol. It is thought to reduce the amount of cholesterol manufactured in the body (source) but also increases the breakdown of fats (source).

Increased Energy

The fact that many users of milk thistle report a feeling of increased energy is also well grounded in research. The components inside every cell which are responsible for producing energy are called mitochondria.

Studies have shown that silymarin increases mitochondrial efficiency

(source), and may be the reason for such reports.

Anecdotally, users have reported a range of other benefits which they attribute to taking milk thistle supplements. These include a beneficial effect on hormonal acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions, a general increased feeling of wellbeing, and even a positive effect on the after-effects of drinking alcohol.

Are There Any Precautions Or Side Effects?

Anyone who has an allergy to ragweed (and the rest of the asteraceae/compositae plant family) may experience an allergic reaction to milk thistle, and so should seek medical advice before taking such a supplement (source).

Some research has shown that milk thistle extracts can act in a similar way to estrogen (source), so milk thistle should not be used by anyone with a condition made worse by estrogen. This includes some types of breast cancer.

Medical advice also suggests it’s best to steer clear of milk thistle if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is due to the lack of research, rather than hard evidence that it is unsafe (source).

Many people who use milk thistle report no side effects. However, some people have reported a laxative effect, bloating, upset stomach and acid reflux.

How Much Should I Take Milk Thistle Supplements?

Most of the scientific studies regarding milk thistle have used a dose of 200mg three times daily – a total of 600 mg per day.

What is the Best Milk Thistle Supplement?

When choosing any supplement, making the right decision can often be difficult due to the sheer variety of products available.

This is why I took a closer look at five of the best milk thistle supplements currently on the market.

Quality

Price

Our rating

Sonora Nutrition pride themselves on producing high quality products at reasonable prices. Their Milk Thistle Extract is manufactured in the US to FDA standards and is soy, dairy and gluten free.

Pros


  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free
  • Made in US
  • FDA approved company
  • No questions asked refund policy

Cons


  • Contains gelatin

Quality

Price

Our rating

Nature’s Bounty have been producing quality supplements for decades. Their Milk Thistle is no exception, and the lowest priced product we reviewed. However, it does come with the downside of a larger capsule size and unpleasant smell and taste.

Pros


  • Produced in US
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Excellent price

Cons


  • Medium large capsule
  • Unpleasant taste and smell

Quality

Price

Our rating

A high quality product from a well-established company, Superior Labs pledge to manufacture supplements with no artificial additives. The downsides are that this is the most expensive product we reviewed, and some users have reported unpleasant side effects.

Pros


  • Produced in USA
  • FDA approved company
  • Easy to swallow pill
  • Vegan and vegetarian
  • Ingredients tested for harmful metals
  • No questions asked returns policy
  • No aftertaste

Cons


  • Some users report stomach spasms

Quality

Price

Our rating

A trusted brand offering a high quality product produced in the US, Puritan’s Pride’s Milk Thistle is well worth considering. However, some users report that the capsules stick together inside the container and arewasted.

Pros


  • Made in USA
  • Easy to swallow

Cons


  • Contains soy
  • Contains gelatin
  • Capsules stick together

Quality

Price

Our rating

A trusted brand well known for producing good quality products, Jarrow Formulas’ Milk Thistle is a little pricier than others, but is high quality, soy free, non-GMO, suitable for vegetarians and tested for purity.

Pros


  • Soy-free
  • Vegetarian
  • Standard size pill, easy to swallow
  • Tested for potency and purity
  • Raw material from Italy
  • Non GMO

Cons


  • Some users reported acid reflux (better if taking a probiotic)
  • Some users report a shaky feeling after taking

Our Choice:

In my opinion, the pick of these products is the Sonora Nutrition Milk Thistle.

It is a high quality product at a reasonable price, FDA approved and most users report a noteworthy improvement in symptoms, blood work results and a general increase in well-being with no side effects.

The use of gelatin makes it unsuitable for vegetarians, which is the only drawback I could identify. In addition the company’s promise of a

hassle-free refund also provides peace of mind – as well as confidence in the quality of their product.

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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