The Best Milk Thistle Supplements: Liquid, Pills (Capsules And Tablets), And Usage

Milk thistle, or Silybum marianum, is a flowering plant used as a medicinal herb for centuries to treat various health conditions. Milk thistle is beneficial because it contains a compound called silymarin, among others. Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso say it is the most well-known component to heal liver injury according to research.

Recent studies have shown that milk thistles provide benefits in treating liver disease, cirrhosis, and even cancer. It is also known as a galactagogue, detoxification agent, and immunomodulator for allergic symptoms. Many people now take milk thistle supplements simply to improve their general health. 

Milk thistle supplements are available in soft gel capsules, tablets, and liquid extract forms. Some producers of these milk thistle supplements are Pure Encapsulations, Gaia Herbs, Jarrow Formulas, Herb Pharm, Solgar, and Nature’s Way. Milk thistle extract is the initial extract of crushed milk thistle seeds added to ethanol or other alcohols. This form is widely used as a liver tonic and is currently studied for its cancer-protective potential. Alternatively, milk thistle supplements undergo processing to extract their intended components. Some preparations are complexed to a carrier, usually a phospholipid, or undergo “nano emulsification” techniques to increase their bioavailability. They are sold as soft gel capsules and tablets. These supplements are sold at $15 to $50; a sure array of milk thistle supplements can deliver the right amount of nutrients that are well worth the price.

In this article, we will learn the best milk thistle supplements, their potential uses, and mechanisms of action. 

1. Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle 60 Vegcaps (Best for Liver Health)

Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle advocates for their product saying, it “promotes a healthy liver so you can stay feeling well.” This concentrated liquid phytocapsule delivers 270 mg of silymarin from 32,400 mg of dry herb per serving. 

This product protects the liver by incorporating a concentration of silymarins appropriate to achieve better liver health. According to Federico, Dallio, & Loguercio, 240mg per day of silymarin is seen in studies to benefit the liver. The liver is protected by silymarin by four mechanisms, according to Khazaei, Seidavi, & Bouyeh. First, milk thistle extracts act as antioxidants; they scavenge free radicals and increase the body’s natural glutathione production. According to Grant, the liver is the body’s most important organ, protecting us against potentially hazardous chemical assaults. It does this by converting them into water-soluble compounds that can be easily removed from the body via urine. Second, silymarin stabilizes the liver’s cell membrane and inhibits the entry of hazardous chemicals into liver cells. According to Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso, these components occupy binding sites and block several transport proteins at the membrane to prevent toxins from being absorbed into the hepatocytes. Third, milk thistle extracts stimulate the production of healthy cells to replace damaged cells. Fourth, in alcoholic liver disease, it acts as an inhibitor of myofibroblasts which cause liver cell destruction. Myofibroblasts deposit collagen in the liver, causing cirrhosis. 

Gaia Herbs sources the ingredients for its supplements as much as possible from its organic farm in Brevard, North Carolina. To create their products, the herbs are brought to Gaia Herbs’ production facility for extraction. Gaia Herbs assures users of the final product’s potency with the use of its patented Liquid Phytocaps Technology during manufacture. According to Gaia Herbs, the Liquid Phytocaps Technology allows for the “absorption of our concentrated plant extracts.”

In Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle Vegcaps, Liquid Phyto-Caps offer the strength of a liquid with the convenience of a capsule—providing the equivalent of more than 1,000 mg of raw herb per dosage. Liquid Phyto-Caps breaks down completely within 10 to 12 minutes of ingestion, outperforming both gelatin and soft-gel capsules. Liquid soft-gels provide several advantages, the first is that they are much easier to swallow. They also have no taste and odor, unlike chewables or liquids.

Aside from this, according to a study by Catalent Inc, one of the most well-recognized benefits of liquid soft-gel capsules is better efficacy and bioavailability. A study by Stella, Haslam, Yata, Okada, Lindenbaum, & Higuchi, says this preparation boosts bioavailability by delivering the nutrient in solution or other absorption-enhancing media, for example, oleic acid. Increasing absorption and bioavailability means a faster breakdown and nutrient delivery, resulting in a quicker onset of action.

The product also assures that the nutrients derived from silymarin are shielded from oxidation and breakdown. This crucial aspect ensures ingredient stability and reduces the generation of free radicals. In the long term, a healthy liver maintains overall well-being. So does this product. According to Kalra, Yetiskul, Wehrle, & Tuma, the liver is involved in nearly all bodily organ systems. It aids in digestion and metabolism by interacting with the endocrine and gastrointestinal systems. The liver is where fat-soluble vitamins are stored, cholesterol homeostasis is maintained, and iron and copper are held. A good functioning liver plays a role in hematology through clotting factors and protein production. It also plays a role in sex hormone metabolism and creates carrier proteins vital in reproduction and development. Finally, Kupffer and Pit cells, which are critical components for regulating the immune system are kept in their proper functioning. 

Adults are recommended to take three capsules daily in the evening for optimal results. This product consists of 3 capsules per serving and delivers 270 mg silymarins from 32,400 mg dry herb and has a price range of 20 to 30 dollars.

This supplement is made to be suitable for vegans. Aside from silymarins, it also has vegetable glycerin, sunflower lecithin, a vegan capsule made of hypromellose, chlorophyll, and water as its other ingredients. 

2. Vital Nutrients Milk Thistle Extract 250mg 60vcaps (Best for Antioxidants)

Milk thistle extract, the initial extract of crushed milk thistle seeds, is made of 65-80 percent of silymarin and 20 percent to 35 percent fatty acids, such as linoleic acid. According to Hackett, Twedt, & Gustafson, milk thistle extracts are widely used as a liver tonic. They are also currently studied for their cancer-protective potential and ability to reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Because it undergoes less processing, it contains the purest flavonoid concentrations. According to Pietta, these flavonoids have the highest antioxidant concentrations in plants extracts. 

Vital Nutrients Milk Thistle Extract is standardized to contain 65-80% silymarin. It is used to support the liver and as an antioxidant supplement. It aids in detoxifying the body, maintaining liver health, and increasing glutathione levels.

Achufusi & Patel describes silymarins’ antioxidant activity in the liver cells by the following mechanisms. It can stop free radicals from forming when harmful chemicals like ethanol, acetaminophen, and carbon tetrachloride are broken down. It promotes protein synthesis by preventing free radical damage to cell membranes and directly blocking oxygen free radical production. It can also operate as an oxygen free radical scavenger, increasing the number of scavengers in liver cells. Studies have also demonstrated silymarin to boost superoxide dismutase activity, serum glutathione, and glutathione peroxidase levels. Silybin can also act as an iron chelator, enhancing its antioxidant capabilities even more.

Vital Nutrients milk thistle caplets are manufactured in their own strictly controlled FDA- inspected facility. To ensure optimum potency and safety from environmental contaminants, they have implemented a cutting-edge Quality Assurance program that surpasses industry standards and regulatory requirements.

The Vital Nutrients company also highlights that this product contains Silychristin, Silydianin, Silybin A & B, and Isosilybin A & B. According to Federico, Dallio, & Loguercio, the Silybin component, can act as an insulin sensitizer. Insulin sensitizers are essential in the control of diabetes mellitus. They are also crucial in reducing liver fat deposition and subsequent inflammation. Thus, it also decreases the overall fat deposits in the serum and other body parts, resulting in less fat lobules accumulation, alleviating one’s fatty liver.

Each serving of this vegetarian supplement consists of two capsules. Its other ingredients are Magnesium Citrate, Cellulose, Vegetable Cellulose capsules, Calcium Carbonate, and Leucine. The price range for a bottle of 60 capsules is between 20 to 30 dollars. It is best to take two capsules up to twice a day, or as directed by your healthcare professional, for best results.

3. Protocol For Life Balance Milk Thistle Extract 300 Mg 90 Vcaps (Best for Antioxidant and Cancer Spread Reduction)

This Milk Thistle Extract from Protocol for Life Balance is a top pick for antioxidant activity. With the addition of artichoke and dandelion, it also has anti-proliferative potential against the spread of cancer. 

This product is formulated to include 80% silymarin in every serving. Silymarin, a milk thistle extract, is comprised of a group of flavonoids that includes Silybin and Silydianin, and lower levels of Silychristin and Silydianin. Milk Thistle has been found to help the liver produce glutathione, which has potent antioxidant potential. Some studies also suggest that Silymarin’s components may aid in maintaining healthy liver function. This vegetarian mix also includes artichoke and dandelion extracts for further liver support.

In a study by Menghini, Genovese, Epifano, Tirillini, Ferrante, & Leporini, the antioxidant, antiproliferative and protective potentials of plant extracts alone and in combination were also shown to affect the growth of cancer cells. 

The study by Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso notes that Silibinin regulates the balance between cell survival and apoptosis by interfering with the expressions of cell cycle regulators and apoptosis-related proteins. Silymarin also has anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, and anti-metastatic properties. It does this by the following mechanisms. First, it regulates the nitric oxide pathway. Nitric oxide (NO) plays a dual role in tissues and cells, acting as both an antioxidant and a pro-oxidant. It is a physiologic signaling molecule that mediates different cell processes in the brain, immune system, and heart. When overexpressed, it can cause cytotoxic and cancerous effects. Silibinin injection to breast cancer patients resulted in a small reduction in serum NO levels to avoid overexpression. Second, Silibinin can induce anti-angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is an essential element for tumor cells’ invasion and survival. Silibinin showed a significant reduction of these angiogenesis markers in breast cancer patients. It also decreased the tumor’s micro-vessel density, a poor prognostic factor in metastatic breast cancer. Third, according to Lah, Silibinin can stop the spread of cancer cells by promoting apoptosis or cell death. In this way, Silibinin has high efficacy in targeting cancer cells’ migratory and invasive features, such as their propensity to spread to other organs. Fourth, oxidative stress produced by the cancer cells is an essential stimulus for more carcinogenic potential. According to Hoh et al., Silibinin and other flavonoids, as potent antioxidants, counters this increased stimulation to prevent cancer cell proliferation.

For added benefit, this product also contains artichoke and dandelion. In a study by Menghini, Genovese, Epifano, Tirillini, Ferrante, & Leporini, the efficacy of both ingredients in reducing tumor cell viability and proliferation activity supported the potential of these combined formulas as drugs in modern medicine. In the anti-proliferative experiments, all extracts, including artichoke and dandelion, reduced tumor cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. They reduce tumor stimulation from oxidative stressors, such as hydrogen peroxide. Hepatic metabolism is also impacted by oxidative stress, which plays a role in the etiology of disorders involving inflammation and cell damage. In this study, plant extracts alone and in combination were found to have antiproliferative, protective, and antioxidant properties.

Protocol For Life Balance is a GMP-certified manufacturer of high-quality dietary supplements for healthcare professionals. Their formulations are based on scientific research and are designed to address common dietary shortages while also supporting good physiological function. These formulas are based on the most recent breakthroughs in nutritional research and include high-quality patented components. Their serving sizes are based on doses used in clinical trials and other published data, and the ingredients in their products have been clinically and laboratory-tested for efficacy. Since the beginning, natural products have been a cornerstone of Protocol for Life Balance. According to the company, natural goods are safer and more effective than those containing substances not found in nature. Thus, they employ as many non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism) ingredients as feasible in their final products. 

This soft gel capsule is priced from 25 to 40 dollars. A serving size is 1 Vegetable Capsule. Its complete ingredients are Sodium 5 mg, Milk Thistle Extract fruit and seeds 300 mg, Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) (4:1) 100 mg, Leaf of Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) 50 mg, cellulose for capsule, Cellulose, Silica, and Magnesium Stearate. Taking 1 Vcap® 1 to 3 times daily is recommended as an herbal dietary supplement. Dosage should only increase as directed by a health care provider.

4. Davinci Labs Milk Thistle 300 Mg 90 Caps (Best for Cholesterol Reduction)

The Davinci Labs Milk Thistle caps are our top pick for cholesterol reduction. The product comes from milk thistle extracts and is processed into capsule form. This supplement aids in liver detoxification by maintaining healthy liver cells, promoting bile synthesis, and assisting in fat breakdown. It also balances blood sugar and reduces cholesterol levels to normal ranges. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help achieve the normalization of cholesterol. Its silymarin content is responsible for these activities. 

According to Tajmohammadi, Razavi, & Hosseinzadeh, the silymarin component increases the activity of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, which is involved in eliminating cholesterol. This transporter takes charge of cholesterol drainage from the hepatocytes into the bile. It also increases the body’s HDL or “good cholesterol” levels, the type which primarily metabolizes and excretes cholesterol. Moreover, silymarin can decrease cholesterol absorption, the plasma level of cholesterol, and the liver content of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). A decrease in VLDL translates to inhibition of intestinal cholesterol absorption. The polyphenol compounds of silymarin also inhibit acyl-CoA, a critical enzyme that produces lipids. They also bind to cholesterol and bile acids to stop the formation of fat lobules. 

Silymarin also promotes good gallbladder function through healthy bile production and excretion, thus helping to prevent gallstones. The liver’s overproduction of cholesterol is the most common metabolic precursor to cholesterol gallstones. Excess cholesterol can be caused by obesity. Hypomotility and mucus overproduction are also two gallbladder factors that promote gallstone formation, according to Bouchier.

This product’s additional benefits include the management of a healthy weight, which is crucial for heart health. Healthy cholesterol levels are important to stop atherosclerotic plaque build-up in the arteries. It also helps in improved detoxification by the liver through its antioxidant activity. Sugar levels are also normalized through their ability to decrease insulin resistance.

DaVinci Laboratories, a division of the producer FoodScience, LLC is committed to making quality dietary supplements. The company goes by saying “we stand for more.” While others in the business create products with bare minimums and unnecessary fillers, they are one of the few companies that label their products accurately. This means they only use therapeutic-grade ingredients and potent formulas that are never diluted. Their goal is to improve people’s lives by creating natural supplements derived from real nutrients—supplements that break down barriers and raise the bar. 

Davinci Labs Milk Thistle has a price range of 25 to 35 dollars. FoodScience, LLC produces this vegan supplement in capsule form. A capsule of Davinci Labs Milk Thistle constitutes one serving. Its complete list of ingredients is Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) seed extract yielding a Silymarin content of 240 mg, microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable cellulose, and vegetarian leucine. It is recommended to take one capsule daily with food or as directed by your healthcare practitioner as a dietary supplement.

5. Designs For Health Milk Thistle 90 Vegcaps (Best for Cardiovascular Benefits)

The efficacy of milk thistle supplementation is hindered by the fact that silymarin has low bioavailability. Bioavailability is the proportion of the substance and its components that reach the organs; thus, adding “solubilizing” chemicals to the extract can improve its systemic bioavailability, according to Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso.

This is the premise by which Designs For Health Milk Thistle is created. This product is standardized to contain 80% silymarin with the additional advantage of improved absorption through the addition of lecithin. Silymarin is a fat-soluble molecule, which means it doesn’t mix well with the watery contents of the intestine and doesn’t absorb well into intestinal cells. When silymarin is mixed with lecithin, a naturally occurring fatty acid, absorption increases to about 90%. According to Niebergall, Jacobs, Chaba, & Vance, D, because lecithin is a natural source of phosphatidylcholine, a phospholipid abundant in cell membranes, it is also easily absorbed and assimilated into the body’s cells. Because a greater amount of silymarin is transported to the liver when complexed with lecithin, it is also more easily tolerated and effective. Aside from this, lecithin also has a role in supporting liver health.

Designs For Health Milk Thistle can help detoxify the liver by boosting bile flow and protecting hepatocytes from everyday toxins. In animal studies described by Méndez-Sánchez, Dibildox-Martinez, Sosa-Noguera, Sánchez-Medal, & Flores-Murrieta, after extraction of silybin from silymarin, a silybin–phosphatidylcholine complex (SPC) has been shown to possess antioxidant activity that protects the liver and heart. Oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and collagen accumulation are reduced in the liver. Consequently, liver damage is minimized. 

Aside from this, the synergistic effect of silymarin and lecithin can protect against cardiovascular diseases. This protection is attributed to both components’ antioxidant activity. Toxic free radicals are inevitably released in response to cellular oxidative stress, which interacts with cell components such as protein, DNA, and lipids, resulting in cardiovascular pathology. Taleb et al. explain that silymarin, as an antioxidant, protects against oxidative stress-induced high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and cardiac toxicity. According to the study by Tandy, Chung, Kamili, Wat, Weir, Meikle, & Cohn, lecithin might also be helpful as a nutraceutical or functional ingredient in individuals at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

This supplement is available in vegan capsules for 20 to 30 dollars. It is produced by Designs for Health. A serving size is one capsule containing 140 mg of Milk Thistle. Other Ingredients are microcrystalline cellulose, cellulose (capsule), sunflower lecithin, silicon dioxide, vegetable stearate. As a dietary supplement, take one capsule per day with a meal, or as directed by your health care practitioner.

The product’s producer, Designs for Health, works on a philosophy of “science first.” They are health activists who are founded and unified in science. They believe in science-based nutrition and natural medicine, making high-quality health products and improving how education and technology support everyone’s wellness. Designs for Health is committed to offering the professional health care community high-quality, dependable, and effective dietary supplement products. The Designs for Health team maintains a strong quality policy and supplier qualification program as evidence of their extraordinarily high-quality standards. Both are intended to legally express and document the company’s quality objectives and performance requirements and those of a select set of global suppliers while assuring FDA Good Manufacturing Practices compliance (GMPs).

6. Herb Pharm Milk Thistle 4 Oz 

Herb Pharm Milk Thistle is an extract from the dried whole seed of the Silybum marianum plant. The plant then undergoes a double-extraction process that produces a more concentrated extract. Because of this concentrating process, the product contains a broad spectrum of milk thistle’s silymarin flavonoids namely silybin, silydianin & silychristin.

According to Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso, flavonolignans, are the components most active in milk thistle’s benefits. They are produced after adding products like alcohol. A two-step defatting and extraction technique employing organic solvents are then used to obtain silymarin components. The first step is defatting the extract. Wallace, Carrier, & Clausen add that this first step to eliminating the 25% lipid content is crucial to deliver twice the usual silymarin concentration. After which, commercial flavonolignan extraction techniques require using organic solvents such as petrol, methanol, and acetonitrile. Although some potential degradation was found when extracting defatted milk thistle seeds with organic solvents, extraction with ethanol yielded the maximum silymarin content.

After this process, silymarin can now work to maintain optimal liver function. Its flavonoid composition is made of silybin‚ silydianin‚ and silychristin, which can repair and produce new liver cells to replace the damaged cells. They also protect healthy liver cells from certain toxins. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help address symptoms associated with diseases that cause liver inflammation. The product’s antioxidant properties can also help liver repair and contribute to liver health.

In viral hepatitis, silymarin’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties reduce virus-related liver damage by regulating the inflammatory cascade while boosting the immune system. In cirrhosis and liver cancer, silymarin reduces inflammation, which plays a role in starting and worsening fibrosis. It reverses the production of “pro-inflammatory cytokines,” which are signals that create fibrous collagen from stellate cells leading to liver damage. On the other hand, Alcoholic Liver Disease overwhelms the liver’s ability to handle toxins due to excess ethanol metabolism. This leads to an imbalance tipped more towards toxin accumulation, damaging the liver’s cell membrane function and leading to death. As an antioxidant, silymarin can detoxify the liver. 

The Herb Pharm Milk Thistle comes as a liquid herbal extract that is easily absorbable. The company never uses synthetic solvents. Herb Pharm grows more than 65 herbs on its farm in Southern Oregon and sources the raw ingredients for its products from there. The herbs that cannot be grown in those environmental conditions such as maca, which only grows in South America, for instance, are sourced from other farmers. According to Herb Pharm, each herb undergoes a rigorous risk assessment to ensure it is not contaminated. If the herb passes the test, only the relevant plant part is extracted to ensure a higher concentration of phytochemicals, the chemicals produced by plants that are believed to yield health benefits. Herb Pharm says it doesn’t just follow its stringent guidelines in creating its products. It also follows the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) and subjects its facilities to third-party audits. 

The Herb Pharm Milk Thistle 4-oz preparation has a price range of 35 to 45 dollars. It is made of certified organic cane alcohol (62-72%) and distilled water. A serving size is 0.7mL. To use it, you can add 0.7 ml or approximately 1/8 teaspoon or a full squeeze of its dropper bulb to 2 oz. of water or juice, 2 to 4 times per day. It is best taken between meals.

7. Nature’s Way Milk Thistle 60 Caps

The Nature’s Way Milk Thistle combines milk and blessed thistle, reaping both of its benefits. Its main components are a standardized 80% silymarin (140 mg) and blessed thistle at 120mg made into capsule form– termed as the company’s “premium blend.”

Milk thistle aims to support liver health. The product makes use of the plant’s seeds. It supports the liver’s vital functions in filtering the blood, secreting bile, and neutralizing poisons. It can also help the body manufacture proteins and energy, store essential vitamins and minerals, regulate hormones, and aid digestion.

Blessed thistle is another medicinal plant from Cnicus benedictus. Its benefits are contained in the flowers, leaves, and upper stems. During the Middle Ages, blessed thistle was frequently used to treat the bubonic plague and as a tonic for monks. Today, blessed thistle is used to treat indigestion and loss of appetite. It is also proposed as a galactagogue. 

According to a book on the Blessed thistle, it contains “sesquiterpene lactones,” tannins, essential oils, flavonoids, and polyenes. It was found in certain commercial combinations marketed to boost milk production, but there are no scientifically valid clinical trials to back up this claim. Blessed Thistle is also classified as a “cholagogue” plant because it stimulates bile production, which aids in liver detoxification. As a result, symptoms linked with impaired liver function, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and brain fog, are reduced. This liver-supporting herb is commonly prescribed to persons who need to regain their appetite when recuperating from illness or from certain treatments known to cause loss of appetite.

Nature’s way is the producer of this Milk Thistle supplement. Nature’s Way was the first company to achieve Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification from the National Sanitation Foundation and still leads the market today. It takes pride in its rigorous processes that ensure the quality of its products. According to Nature’s Way, its ingredients are sourced from trusted suppliers worldwide, many of whom have had decades of experience in farming. These ingredients were harvested following sustainable practices. According to Nature’s Way, once the ingredients are harvested, they undergo rigorous testing in the company’s state-of-the-art lab. It adds that many of its products are TRU-ID-certified, which means any product with the TRU-ID label has had all ingredients tested for purity at the DNA level. It also means that what consumers read on the product label is exactly what’s inside the bottle.

This product is priced at 20 to 30 dollars. A serving size is one capsule. It contains Milk Thistle Seed Extract standardized to 80% silymarin (140 mg), Blessed Thistle (stem, leaf, flower),  Plant-Derived Capsule (Hypromellose), and Cellulose. Recommended usage is one capsule three times daily with food or water. There are certain precautions in persons with allergies to the Asteraceae (Compositae) family, including ragweed. In the same way, pregnant or nursing women or persons taking any other medications should consult a healthcare professional before use.

8. Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle 150 Mg 200 Caps (Best for Immune Support)

The Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle is a highly concentrated product that contains 80% total milk thistle flavonoids, like isosilybinins, silybinins, silychristin and silydianin. These flavonoids are responsible for this product’s ability to support liver function and the immune response. They have strong antioxidant potential by boosting glutathione levels and enhancing the liver’s protein-synthesizing ability. 

According to Wilasrusmee, Kittur, Shah, Siddiqui, Bruch, Wilasrusmee, & Kittur, the most potent immune-boosting capacities are due to a mixture of isosilybinins, silybinins, silychristin and silydianin, and taxifolin; Silybin and its isomers having the most significant potential. It affects the immune system by the following mechanisms. First, they induce lymphocyte proliferation, the first stage in a good immune response. These lymphocytes create the signal needed to destroy a present antigen or activate the memory lymphocytes required to eliminate the same antigen the host may meet in the future. Second, they increase the number of cytokines, which produce interleukins. Cytokines are the source of soluble regulatory signals that start and stop inflammatory responses to infections and injury. Third, they strengthen macrophage activity. According to Hirayama, Iida, & Nakase, macrophages are immune effector cells that engulf bacteria and release other pro-inflammatory and antibacterial mediators during a pathogenic attack. Macrophages eat and digest dead cells, debris, tumor cells, and foreign materials, among other things. 

Aside from its innate immune-regulating capacity, its antioxidant potential has a role in the immune system. According to Bendich, free radicals damage membranes, enzymes, and DNA, a normal process that occurs in the body. Antioxidants protect the structural integrity of cells and tissues by destroying these free radicals. Thus, by protecting the cells of the immune system, antioxidant supplementation has been shown in recent clinical trials to boost specific immune responses considerably. Supplementing with antioxidant vitamins also preserved immunological responses in people who were exposed to excess free radicals from the environment.

Jarrow Formulas products are made in facilities that are certified to follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). Their manufacturers are required to evaluate the identification, purity, strength, and composition of substances and only work with raw material suppliers who adhere to these standards. Clients can be confident of quality and efficacy when purchasing from Jarrow Formulas’ extensive array of nutritional supplements. They have in-house analytical facilities that allow their personnel to test the quality of their products from beginning to end. The company won’t stop there, though. The finished items are also put through rigorous testing to satisfy the highest quality requirements.

This Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle is a vegan capsule. Its complete ingredients are Cellulose, vegetarian capsule (hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, water), magnesium stearate (vegetable source), and silicon dioxide. One capsule is one serving size and is equivalent to 150mg of Silymarin. Take 1 to 3 capsules per day or as directed by your qualified healthcare professional.

9. Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle Seed Extract 1 Oz

This Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle Seed Extract is an organic liquid extract that supports healthy liver function. Unlike the Gaia Herb Vegcap preparation, this form is more concentrated but still has the optimal phytochemical component of Silymarin. 

Like the other milk thistle seed extracts, they are processed by adding 65 to 75% organic alcohol. In the study by according to Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso, to extract flavonolignans, which are the most active constituents of milk thistle, adding products like alcohol is crucial. This technique of employing organic solvents eliminates the lipid content and delivers twice the usual silymarin concentration.

According to Gaia Herbs, this Silymarin concentration has antioxidant effects to help maintain healthy liver cells. In the liver, which handles many detoxification processes in the body, it is worth noting that silymarin can help with antioxidant defenses in various ways. According to Surai, it does this by first scavenging free radicals directly. Second, by blocking certain enzymes that produce free radicals, they maintain the cell’s energy storage integrity even under stress conditions. This avoids more free radical creation. Third, a variety of antioxidant enzymes and non-enzymatic antioxidants are activated. Lastly, they activate several vitagenes, or genes responsible for producing protective chemicals and thus provide further protection in stressful situations.

This liquid extract is available in 1 oz bottles and has a price range of 10 to 20 dollars. It is a vegan supplement. One serving size is 40 drops or 1.33mL. The recommended intake is 30-40 drops in a small amount of water 3-4 times daily between meals. Other ingredients are organic alcohol USP (65-75%) and water. It is not for use during pregnancy and lactation.

10. Quicksilver Scientific Milk Thistle Nanoemulsified 1.7 Oz (Best in Milk Thistle Bioavailability)

Poor solubility, instability during storage, inadequate bioavailability, and difficulties reaching target organs with sufficient doses are all issues that arise from the usage of herbal extracts. This Quicksilver Scientific Milk Thistle Nanoemulsified product is the answer to the best drug delivery quest. Its delivery system is based on a nano-emulsified technique of herbal medication preparation. In this product, milk thistle is also complexed to a phospholipid called lecithin, which improves its bioavailability. These two mechanisms account for better and faster drug absorption and metabolism.

According to Ishii & Nii, lecithin is composed of phospholipids used to manufacture liposomes. Because of their biodegradability and ability to improve drug transport in the cells, liposomes have a lot of potential as carriers of herbal extracts, among other delivery systems. Liposomes have many well-known advantages, including increased solubility, therapeutic index, the ability to target tissues, reduced toxicity, and multicomponent resistance. It ensures a cell-to-cell delivery of nutrients from the milk thistle. According to Sogut, Aydemir Sezer, and Sezer, liposomal systems can even withstand chemical and environmental changes, improving herbal extracts’ stability.

Nano-emulsification is another technique employed in Quicksilver Scientific Milk Thistle. This process allows phenolics and antioxidants to be absorbed passively into the lymphatic and blood from the intestine. Here, the bioavailability of milk thistle is increased. According to Di Costanzo, & Angelico, nano-emulsification overcomes the drawback of administering large volumes or microemulsions per dose. In the process, preconcentrated organic liquid extracts containing poorly water-soluble drugs are formulated so they can disperse once in contact with an aqueous milieu like that of gastric fluids after ingestion. According to pharmacokinetic studies from the product’s manufacturer, the capsule breaks fast in the stomach, forming emulsified nanoparticles that easily diffuse past intestinal cell membranes into the circulation in as little as 20 minutes, with peak blood concentration reaching as little as 90 minutes.

Aside from this, it is also added with Vitamin E and lecithin. According to Kaur, Shalini, & Bansal, supplementing with vitamin E in alcohol-damaged livers improved the liver’s capacity for alcohol metabolism, decreased liver cell death, and avoided oxidative stress. Vitamin E can reduce the toxic effects of alcohol and be employed as a treatment for alcohol-induced oxidative damage in the liver. On the other hand, supplementation of lecithin showed its ability to reverse ethanol-induced liver damage in the study by Das & Vasudevan.

Quicksilver Scientific’s Nanoemulsified Milk Thistle can support and preserve the liver, maintain good digestive function, bile flow, and protect the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione. Milk thistle aids in preventing toxic substances from being absorbed into the cells of the liver. The company adds that this product can be used before and after social gatherings to help you feel better the following day. It gives a boost of energy by the action of its antioxidant activity. 

Quicksilver Scientific is the producer of this product. The company offers sophisticated liposomal supplements that are highly bioavailable and support important health functions. Quicksilver products assist clients in realizing their genetic potential, from vitamin absorption to the elimination of common contaminants. Nutrients absorb quickly and act with up to 5X the potency of non-liposomal solutions, thanks to their innovative delivery technology. Increased bioavailability means that their solutions start working in 5 minutes and reach maximum exposure in 20-30 minutes.

This product has a price range of 30 to 40 dollars. It is in a liquid form. Its complete ingredients are glycerin, water, ethanol, medium-chain triglycerides, tocofersolan, natural citrus oils, natural mixed tocopherols. The product is also suited for vegans. A serving size is four pumps or 2mL containing 30mg of Milk Thistle seed extract standardized to contain 80% Silymarin, 100mg of Phospholipids from purified sunflower seed lecithin. It is recommended to take 1-4 pumps by mouth. Hold in mouth 30 seconds before swallowing. Repeat to desired dosage or as directed by a healthcare professional. Take on an empty stomach, at least 10 minutes before meals. Consult your physician before use if pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant.

11. Allergy Research Group Milk Thistle Plus 120 Caps 

The Milk Thistle Plus from Allergy Research Group is a powerhouse of antioxidants for liver health. It combines three traditional herbal extracts: milk thistle seed, Phyllanthus amarus leaf, and dandelion root. Best of all, these milk thistle capsules are hypoallergenic.

According to Nguyen, V., Sakoff, J., & Scarlett, Phyllanthus amarus leaf extracts contain a wide range of bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, flavonoids, saponins, triterpenes, lignans, ellagitannins, sterols, and alkaloids which have potent anti-hepatitis, antioxidant and anticancer activities. On the other hand, dandelion is another powerful antioxidant. According to Choi, Lee, Yim, Cho, Rhee, Lim, & Kim, dandelion helps prevent atherosclerosis from high cholesterol levels. They further note that this process is linked to increased oxidative stress. Dandelion reduced the severity of atherosclerosis by lowering oxidative stress, serum triglyceride, and bad cholesterol while also increasing serum HDL-C or good cholesterol. Because of its effects on lowering atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease risk factors are simultaneously lower. Thus, it is important for heart health.

Allergy Research Group has been acknowledged for providing the best quality and most cutting-edge hypoallergenic supplements available for over 40 years. Many nutrients can be produced from natural plant components that may be allergenic in their native state. The company makes sure the allergens are left behind by its modern synthesizing and purifying methods required to acquire the pure nutrient from the original component. If done correctly, the allergen content is effectively zero, and advanced testing methods cannot identify it. 

At Allergy Research Group, when you see hypoallergenic on a product’s label, you can be confident that they took every precaution to maintain its purity. A final issue is that many of their products are effectively hypoallergenic but are not labeled as such. The law obliges companies to disclose a possible allergen as a component, even though the product does not include any actual allergens. On every product label, the company completely discloses all contents, both active and inactive so that clinicians may make fully informed decisions about their patients’ nutritional assistance.

This product is in capsule form and costs 45 to 55 dollars. It also is vegetarian. A serving size is one capsule, containing Phyllanthus amarus Leaf Extract 200 mg, Milk Thistle Seed Extract standardized to 80% Silymarin at 200mg, and Dandelion Root Extract 200 mg. The other Ingredients are Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, L-leucine. Take one capsule two or three times daily with meals or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.

12. Genestra Milk Thistle Tincture 60 Ml (Best for Liver-Gut Axis)

The Genestra Milk Thistle Tincture is another top pick. It is made from the seed extract of milk thistle and supports liver function and digestive comfort.

Through the product’s ability to increase antioxidant activity in the liver, good liver health is maintained. Good liver status is equivalent to good digestive health. This is evident in what is called a gut-liver axis. According to Konturek, Harsch, Konturek, Schink, Konturek, Neurath, & Zopf, gut dysbiosis has recently been discovered as a key role in the etiology of liver disorders. The link between the gut microbiota and the liver is unknown; however, leaky gut syndrome and enhanced bacterial translocation into the liver via the gut–liver axis are likely to play key roles in developing and progressing liver disease. The liver is a critical immunological organ that responds to gut-derived microbes via portal circulation by activating the innate and adaptive immune systems, resulting in hepatic damage. Many chronic liver disorders are also associated with intestinal dysbiosis, including Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Alcoholic Liver Disease, immune-mediated liver diseases, liver cirrhosis, and hepatic cancer. 

Herbal supplements from Genestra Brands blend standardized and highly concentrated herbal extracts from multiple sources. Master herbalists handcraft their plant tinctures, which are made utilizing traditional processes. The botanicals from Genestra Brands are as close to their natural state as possible. The company was founded based on research-driven and evidence-based scientific foundation and traditional use. Genestra Brands goes above and above to assure high-quality products, enforcing strict manufacturing standards from beginning to end. The Genestra Brands Quality team maintains strict process adherence from manufacturing raw ingredients to preparation, bottling, and storage.

The Genestra Milk Thistle Tincture is available in liquid form. A serving size is 1mL or 20 drops of the tincture and contains Milk Thistle Seed Extract as 300mg dried equivalent. It is priced at 25 to 35 dollars. It is a vegan tincture. Other ingredients are purified water and ethanol (grain). As a dietary supplement, take 20 drops three times daily or as recommended by your health professional.

How To Use A Milk Thistle Supplement?

Milk thistle supplements are taken orally. It is available in capsule, powder, tablet, or liquid extract. 

  • Milk thistle capsules are ingested in between meals or during an empty stomach.
  • Milk thistle in liquid form may be mixed with water, but some preparations require directly ingesting a certain number of drops.
  • Milk thistle in powder form can be mixed with your favorite food/dish.

An intravenous formula is used in Europe as an antidote to Amanita phalloides, a mushroom toxin that causes severe liver damage.


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How Much Milk Thistle Supplement Is Too Much Per Day?

According to Gholamreza Karim, adult dosage considered safe and optimal is 420 mg/day of extract (standardized to 70-80% silymarin) three times a day for 6-8 weeks. Its maintenance dose is 280 mg/day. As an intravenous solution, a dose of 33 mg/kg/day infused for a total of 81.67 hours is recommended for mushroom poisoning.

The dose of milk thistle will also depend on the usage purpose and concentration of the supplement being used.  

  • To promote general health and well-being: silymarin 420–600 mg daily is effective
  • For hepatoprotection: oral silymarin 420 mg/day three times a day for 6-8 weeks
  • For chronic alcoholic liver disease: an oral dose of 420 mg/day of silymarin for 6 months. According to other studies, higher doses are needed for liver diseases.
  • As antifibrotic: oral administration of silymarin 50 mg/kg reduces the collagen content in the liver
  • For anti-inflammatory benefit: oral administration of 750 mg/kg/day
  • For antioxidant benefit: oral administration of 100 mg/kg
  • For Liver cirrhosis: an oral dose of 420 mg/day
  • For viral hepatitis: doses up to 2.1g per day is safe
  • For persons with diabetes: an oral dose of 600 mg/day of silymarin plus standard therapies

Based on milk thistle concentration:

  • Standard milk thistle should consist of 70-80% of silymarin. The silybin content should ideally be noted, too. It should account for about 40% of the total. If the concentration is lower than these values, higher doses are required.

Based on drug route of administration:

  • IV dosages are given at higher dosages, up to 2g/day.

With maximum oral doses of 2500 and 5000 mg/kg, silymarin was found to be nontoxic and symptom-free in animal experiments. Thus, it has a wide margin of safety.

What Are The Possible Risks (Side-Effects) Of Milk Thistle Supplements?

According to Abenavoli, Capasso, Milic, & Capasso, Silymarin is said to have an excellent safety profile. However, some case reports list the following risks and side-effects of Milk Thistle:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pains
  • Urticaria
  • Anaphylactic shock. According to Polachi et al., this risk increases in persons with known allergies to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family like daisies, ragweed, chrysanthemum, and marigold.

There are also risks associated with the intake of milk thistle. Caution should be practiced when the following concurrent medications are taken:

  • Diazepam, Warfarin. Milk thistle may cause elevation of the levels of these medications
  • Antidiabetic medications. Milk thistle may cause low blood sugar levels when used concurrently.
  • Raloxifene. Milk thistle may cause higher levels of the drug in your bloodstream.
  • Sirolimus. An immunosuppressant can further cause low immunity when taken together with milk thistle.

What Are The Main Benefits And Use Of A Milk Thistle Supplement?

Milk thistle’s most studied and most important benefits are liver protection and regeneration, antioxidant provision, and the body’s toxin detoxification. The other benefits of milk thistle are listed below:

  • Helps prevent cancer spread
  • Helps to improve cognition
  • Delays age-related memory decline
  • Prevents excess inflammation during illness and stress
  • Increases lactation 
  • Decreases fibrosis, especially in liver cells 
  • Possesses immuno-modulation activity
  • Increases insulin sensitivity
  • Regulates drug transporters of medications
  • Help protect the bones
  • Promotes skin health

What Are The Forms Of Milk Thistle Supplements?

  1. Milk Thistle Pills: These milk thistle supplements can be processed as pure formulations of silymarin extracts or contain concentrated herb strength. Some are in tablets, soft gel capsules, or liquid phytocaps. Some preparations also undergo a two-step defatting technique to get twice the silymarin content, while some are incorporated with a carrier, like phospholipid to ensure more bioavailability. Pills and capsules offer the advantage of being easily portable and not worrying about the taste and aroma of the extract when consumed.  These types are suited for those who need only regular dosing to maintain the levels of silymarin in the blood adequately. They are also beneficial to those who experience gastrointestinal upset with liquid form intake.
  2. Milk Thistle Liquid or Tincture: These supplements are packed with silymarin and flavonoids in different concentrations. They are typically available in sizes of 1 to 6 ounce bottles. They can also be complexed with a carrier molecule or may be emulsified into smaller particles to allow smaller doses while availing of milk thistle’s full benefits. They can be consumed drank by themselves but may be incorporated into water or drink. Milk Thistle Liquid or Tincture are recommended when a higher dosage is needed and a faster effect is required.
  3. Milk Thistle Powder. This is the least processed type. It contains the purest silymarin components. However, this may require higher doses to achieve the usage purpose. These have higher ceiling doses as compared to the processed ones. They are disadvantageous because they are less portable and less bioavailable, too.

What Is The Difference Between Liquid And Pill Milk Thistle Supplements?

Liquid and Pill Milk Thistle Supplements differ in terms of the following:

  • Structure: Pill Milk Thistle supplements require some time for its outer shell to disintegrate before releasing its bioactive components. Liquid supplements are readily dispersed in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Absorption: Liquid Milk Thistle supplements are absorbed and distributed quickly compared to pill forms.
  • Bioavailability: Most liquid Milk Thistle supplements are coupled to a carrier phospholipid that allows greater bioavailability. 
  • Shelf-life: Liquid Milk Thistle supplements have a shorter shelf life than the pill forms. 
  • After taste: Liquid Milk Thistle supplements have the disadvantage of bearing with some bitter-tasting preparations.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Because the dosage of liquid Milk Thistle supplements is more flexible by adding more drops, it is more cost-effective. The dosage of supplements in pill forms is fixed per capsule.

Is Liquid Milk Thistle Supplement Better Than Milk Thistle Pills?

Liquid Milk Thistle Supplements are better than pill forms. Liquid vitamins have a higher absorption rate. Liquid vitamins are better absorbed and are also absorbed faster than pill vitamins. Especially in some nano-emulsified preparations, this process is accelerated. Some carriers like phospholipid also increase its bioavailability. Liquid vitamins do not require physical breakdown since they do not have outside capsules, making them readily available for absorption. 

Does Milk Thistle Powder Supplement Have Less Nutritional Value?

Milk Thistle powder supplements have less nutritional value. The efficacy of milk thistle supplementation is hindered by the fact it has bioavailability. Thus, many preparations add “solubilizing” chemicals to the extract. However, the powder forms do not undergo this processing technique. Powder forms are the purest forms of supplementation, but they may not be readily absorbed by the body, giving off less nutritional value. 

Should I Buy Gluten-Free Milk Thistle?

Yes. Gluten-free milk thistle supplements are better than non-gluten-free milk thistle supplements since they do not contain gluten or ingredients that come from wheat, rye, or barley. The starches found in non-gluten-free milk thistle supplements can be used in tablets and capsules as excipients, diluents, disintegrants, or binding agents in low-quality supplement manufacturers. Due to the assurance that there are no hidden gluten compounds in gluten-free milk thistle supplements, people with certain health conditions, such as Celiac disease, prefer them.

Who Are The Best Producers Of Milk Thistle Supplements?

The best producers of milk thistle supplements are:

  • Solgar
  • Nature’s Way
  • Solaray
  • Gaia Herbs
  • NOW
  • Wise Woman Herbals
  • Herb Pharm
  • Pure Encapsulations
  • Nature’s Bounty 

Nature’s Bounty is a large manufacturer and popular brand, but it is not a practitioner brand. Practitioner brand products are those that are often prescribed or sold by a doctor rather than given over-the-counter. Practitioner-only products go through extensive quality control and clinical research to verify that all components are effective and safe. As a result, the ingredient quality is frequently significantly greater and more effective. Practitioner-only products are generally more expensive, but they come with a guarantee of quality. 


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How Does Premier Formulas Choose The Best Milk Thistle Supplements?

At Premier Formulas, we only select milk thistle supplements that have undergone an extensive assessment of documented proof that the manufacturing company follows federal cGMP regulations and guidelines. Samples of their products from our own inventory must also pass initial and quarterly randomized testing from independent laboratories. Our key mission is to provide high-quality supplements and the information for our patrons to use them in an educated, effective and safe manner. We want you to know that we care about your health when choosing your milk thistle supplements. After all, we give the same products to our family as we provide to you and your family. 

Is Milk Thistle The Best Supplement For The Liver?

There is no conclusive study that evaluates milk thistle as the best supplement for the liver. Although studies done in humans have shown promising results, the clinical efficacy of milk thistle needs more intensive research. 

According to Achufusi, & Patel, herbalists and physicians have used milk thistle to cure various liver diseases, including fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis, and protect the liver against environmental toxins for hundreds of years. Millions of individuals now consume milk thistle to maintain good liver function. Researchers have concentrated their efforts on silymarin, a combination of flavonolignans isolated from milk thistle, and silybin, the extract’s most active constituent. However, each has a distinct clinical purpose, and there are no conclusive clinical efficacy outcomes. Physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing staff, and pharmacists should be informed that there is currently no strong clinical evidence to support the use of silybin or silymarin in the therapeutic context.

Green tea, ginseng, turmeric, garlic, licorice, and ginkgo Biloba are also studied for their effects on the liver. 

What Is The Best Form Of Milk Thistle Supplement For Liver Detox?

The best form of milk thistle supplements are those that are highly bioavailable because they reach the liver at their therapeutic levels. They can be in capsule or liquid forms, attached to a carrier molecule like phospholipid, or undergoing processing that ensures bioavailability.

How Do You Determine The Correct Milk Thistle Dosage For Liver Detox?

The adult dosage for liver detoxification is 420 mg/day of standardized extract (70-80% silymarin) three times a day for 6-8 weeks. Its maintenance dose is 280 mg/day.

Can Milk Thistle Treat Liver Problems?

Yes, milk thistle can treat the following:

  • Viral hepatitis 
  • Alcoholic liver disease 
  • Nonalcoholic liver disease
  • Cholestasis: Pregnancy and nonpregnancy related 
  • Drug‐ and toxin‐induced liver disease 
  • Primary liver malignancy


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