Studies using Silybum marianum show that the supplement induces liver cells to synthesize more glutathione, a detoxifier that improves liver function. It is also possible that the plant – commonly called milk thistle – has similar effects on the colon and the brain.
Originally native to Southern Europe and Asia, milk thistle can now be found everywhere throughout the world. Whether in plant form in a small forest near your house, or a supplement at your local store, you can get your hands on Silybum marianum and its healing power.
A Study On Milk Thistle
In studies, the plant was found to show protective properties regarding the prostate. A number of reports have shown the polyphenolic flavonoid is an effective anticancer agent, specifically in negatively affecting androgen action in prostate cancer cells.
What does this mean? It means that taking milk thistle (Silybum marianum) supplements helps fight, or even prevents, prostate cancer. A unique mechanism in the plant’s make-up acts to stop the spread of prostate cancer. Researchers wanted to see if milk thistle had other beneficial effects.
It’s Like A Helmet
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Japanese scientists have been studying milk thistle’s effects on animals. All of the theories and answer derived about milk thistle’s effects on prostate cancer were gained from studies on mice. Next, the researchers wanted to see if there were similar effects on the brain.
Silybum marianum reduces how fats and cholesterol are accumulated in the body. This accumulation, the scientists thought, resembles how beta-amyloid plaques build-up in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. These plaques deter the brain’s function.
Could Milk Thistle Work?
The next question the scientists posed was: Could Silybum marianum work the same way against beta-amyloid plaque as it did against other toxic accumulations. To answer this, the Japanese scientists tested on mice who had developed Alzheimer’s.
The researchers gave the lab animals food with a small percentage of Silybum marianum for 6 months. At the end of this period the mice were subject to psychological tests while their brains were studied.
Flowers For Algernon
While not specifically about Alzheimer’s, I highly suggest reading Flowers For Algernon written in 1958 by Daniel Keyes. In it, a new scientific procedure improves brain function for mice and men alike. A mouse, Algernon and the protagonist, Charlie Gordon, become super-intelligent but only for a short period of time. The effects start to wear-off and it is first noticeable when Algernon’s ability to run mazes is compromised.
The Japanese scientists had mice run mazes. Animals with Alzheimer’s are less calm than healthy animals, and in mazes they continually check their surroundings because their brains don’t retain earlier memories.
The milk thistle made no change to mice without Alzheimer’s, but those mice with Alzheimer’s checked their surroundings much less. The scientists also had images of the Alzheimer’s-ridden mouse brains. The changes were evident.
The photos above are samples of brain tissue from a mouse who had Alzheimer’s. The upper row shows tissue at the start of milk thistle supplementation, the bottom row shows brain tissue from Alzheimer’s mice aged one year. Those dots are plaque. There is normal plaque build up in all of our brains, however with mice where Alzheimer’s was induced, the Silybum marianum supplement showed great support in not letting Alzheimer’s advance normally.
The results of this test are clear. Further tests need to be done to see exactly what in milk thistle makes it such a potent fighter and preventative measure against Alzheimer’s, but it’s evident that the product is a safe, natural supplement that can (and should) used for Alzheimer’s prevention, prostate cancer fighting, and potentially more.
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