Milk thistle is a plant used for centuries to treat liver ailments in humans.
Although it was once relegated to “crunchy” circles, people widely use the herb to treat a variety of health problems.
This is due in part to the scientific research backing up anecdotal claims.
In fact, many traditional and Western veterinarians recommend this herb to treat a variety of pet ailments.
For example, it is scientifically proven to benefit the liver, control blood sugar in diabetics, and boost cancer-fighting treatment.
Additionally, one of the health benefits of milk thistle is that it works as an emergency antidote to mushroom poisoning.
How Does Milk Thistle Work?
Milk thistle, a flowering plant also known as Silybum marianum, contains a flavonoid compound called “silymarin.”
It may provide antioxidant activity, toxin blockade at the membrane level, enhanced protein synthesis, antifibriotic activity, and possible anti-inflammatory or immunomodulating effects.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio published this study.
Health Benefits For Liver Damage
Milk thistle is the most well-researched plant in the treatment of liver disease.
This data is in a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
”In animals, silymarin reduces liver injury caused by acetaminophen, carbon tetrachloride, radiation, iron overload, phenylhydrazine, alcohol, cold ischemia, and Amanita phalloides,” the researcher wrote.
It’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects reduce virus-related liver damages and increase cellular vitality.
Researchers wrote this data in a review.
Additionally, it halts the progression of liver disease by targeting oxidative stress, insulin resistance, liver fat accumulation, and mitochondrial dysfunction.
For Cancer Treatment
The flavonoid antioxidant silymarin found in this herb offers “exceptionally high protection against tumor promotion.”
A study published by the NCBI notes this data.
Additionally, it reduces the side effects associated with cancer treatments, according to studies published by the NCBI.
Uses For Blood Sugar Control
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) reports compounds in milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, studies found it could reduce the risk of diabetic complications like kidney disease.
Side Effects and Administration
Milk thistle typically presents very mild side effects, if any.
Side effects include mild gastrointestinal distress in high doses.
Plants in the same family as common allergens, such as ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, and daisy, may affect pets with allergies.
Most veterinarians feel it is “medicine” and not a daily preventative supplement. This means milk thistle is best administered 3-6 weeks, with breaks.
However, in studies where scientists administered high doses to humans for long periods, only about 1% of participants experienced side effects.
A recommended daily dose for dogs is up to 200 mg of this herb, per 10 pounds of body weight.
In human studies, three or four small portions rationed out over the day was more effective than one large daily dose.
No research exists for pregnant or lactating pets.
Looking for an easy way to administer this supplement for your pet?