[Silybum marianum/Carduus marianus] Also known as Milk Thistle, for its reputed ability to promote breast milk production, St. Mary’s Thistle (SMT) has been used in herbal medicine for a couple of thousand years. Substantial research has confirmed the traditional knowledge that SMT seeds have a remarkable protective and restorative effect on the liver – that amazingly complex organ whose metabolic processes largely bear the burden of the body’s detoxification work.
Much of the therapeutic benefit of SMT seeds is attributed to a group of potent antioxidant bioflavonoids, known together as silymarin, which are able to guard and stabilise cell membranes, preventing the invasion of toxins, as well as enhance the regeneration of liver cells already damaged by detoxification processes.
St. Mary’s Thistle can assist both the healthy or sick liver in its constant encounters with environmental toxins. It is particularly applicable for horses who have suffered liver damage from poisons, infections, high worm burdens, reactions to worming drugs, or ongoing/excessive pharmaceutical drug use. SMT can be taken long term, and indeed needs be taken for a prolonged period (at least 4-12 weeks) to be of most benefit. For horses, St. Mary’s Thistle seeds can be fed whole or they can be ground up to aid in their digestion.
ACTIONS include: liver tonic – protective and stimulant; cholagogue (promoting bile flow); increasing breast milk production; antidepressant.