When you investigate natural medicine for a healthy liver you'll nearly always hear that you should take milk thistle extract. This herbal supplement, which contains compounds taken from the seed of a flowering Mediterranean plant, is said to detoxify the liver and support its healthy function.
Although there's no big-time scientific evidence behind the benefits of milk thistle, multiple small studies have shown that the herb boosts liver health, particularly in patients with cirrhosis and chronic liver disease.
But if you're taking (or considering taking) milk thistle for liver health, you may get the added bonus of healthier skin cells. New research done at the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that an active ingredient in milk thistle extract, silibinin, kills skin cells that have mutated from exposure to UVA radiation, and also protects skin cells from damaged caused by UVB radiation. This suggests that milk thistle extract may have a role to play in preventing UV-induced skin cancer.
Although this research was done in the lab, and human studies would need to be done before anybody would recommend taking milk thistle to protect your skin, it's certainly supports this supplement's reputation as healthy medicine.
I already take milk thistle a few times a week, since so many experts I've interviewed (like Earl Mindell, "A Vitamin Expert's Outspoken Advice") recommend taking it to detoxify the liver. The idea is that our bodies are exposed to so many manmade chemicals each day that our livers need extra support to process them.
You can read more about milk thistle on the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website
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