Medicinal Benefits of Milk Thistle Fruit

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Milk thistle fruits contain 15- 30% fatty oil and about 20-30% proteins. The true active constituents constitute only about 2-4% of the dried herb. The mixture of active principles, called silymarin, consists of four isomers: silybinin (about 50%) and lesser amounts of isosilybinin, silydianin, and silychristin. Silymarin is most concentrated in the protein layer of the seed husks...

Pharmacological studies have been performed on silymarin and its main component silybinin. It was found that silymarin mainly exerts antitoxic effects and promotes the regeneration of liver tissue. The antitoxic effects are based in part on membrane-stabilizing and radical-antagonizing actions. The regeneration-promoting effects are attributed to the stimulation of protein biosynthesis.

Antitoxic effects: Silymarin premedication in rats was found to prevent the injurious effects of various liver toxins such as carbon tetrachloride, galactosamine, thioacetamide, and praseodymium. Silymarin also protects the liver from drug toxicity. Particularly impressive are experimental reports of protective effects against the toxins of the mushroom Amanita phalloides, phalloidin and a-amanitin which attack the liver at various sites. Silymarin forms the basis for the only antidote to Amanita poisoning...

More than 90% of all fatal mushroom poisonings are caused by ingestion of the death cup mushroom Amanita phalloides. A death cup of moderate size contains about 10 mg of amanitin- a potentially lethal quantity for an adult. The toxins in Amanita mushrooms block the RNA polymerase in liver cells, culminating in cell death after a typical latent period of about 12- 24 hours. It is believed that silybinin competitively displaces the amanitin from the enzyme, thereby reactivating the process of protein biosynthesis.
Placebo-controlled double-blind studies in humans are prohibited for this indication. To date, some 150 case reports have been published on the therapeutic use of silybinin in patients with Amanita poisoning. While older publications cited mortality rates of 30-50% from this type of poisoning, studies using silybinin infusion therapy reported dramatically lower death rates: 1 death in 18 patients (Hruby et al., 1983) and 1 death in 13 patients (Marugg and Reutter, 1985).

- pp. 215- 218, Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide to Herbal Medicine by Schulz Hansel Tyler (1998)

Amanita muscaria, cure, thistle, milk, silybinin