Using milk thistle in herbal medicine

Milk Thistle seeds, when taken on a regular basis, are known to protect the liver and help it heal. The little black seeds are often used in the treatment of cirrhosis and hepatitis. They can also help heal damage done to the liver by toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Milk Thistle seeds are used in the treatment of gallstones, psoriases, acne, high cholesterol, kidney problems, spleen malfunction, and mushroom poisoning.
Milk Thistle seeds have antioxidant properties that are many times stronger than vitamin E. These antioxidants encourage liver cell renewal and help repair damage from degenerative conditions related to alcoholism. This very useful herb is known to contain silymarin, a biochemical believed to heal the liver in just 8 to 16 weeks. Take one or two teaspoons of the ground seeds three or four times a day for best results. After 8 or 10 weeks, reduce amount to ½ teaspoon three times a day. The ground seeds may also be made into tea but potency is greatly reduced.
By improving liver function, Milk Thistle seeds help clear up the skin. When the liver is working properly, the blood is cleansed, and the complexion takes on a healthy glow. Being a demulcent, Milk Thistle can soften the skin and help heal acne, eczema, redness and dry, cracking lips from the inside out.
Milk Thistle seeds make a gentle and effective laxative. By increasing bile secretions in the intestinal tract, the bowels are lubricated and the stools are softened. Regular use of Milk Thistle seeds can actually balance individuals that tend to alternate between diarrhea and constipation. (When diarrhea is present, combine Milk Thistle seeds with dandelion root for best results.)
Milk Thistle seeds can soothe and moisten the mucus membranes. Regular use can help speed the healing of kidney and bladder irritations and other inflammations.
Milk Thistle has been used medicinally (and as a vegetable) for over 2000 years. It goes by many names including Bull Thistle, Holy Thistle, Royal Thistle, and Prickly Thistle.
Milk Thistle is found growing wild on roadsides, along fence lines, and in pastures. Native to the Mediterranean, the plant now grows wild all over the world and is sometimes considered to be an invasive weed.
Milk Thistle grows up to eight feet tall and usually bears several large pink flowers on branching stems during the summer. The leaves are wide with white patches or veins. The Milk Thistle plant prefers a dry, sunny location and is easy to grow. Harvest seed pods in fall, dry, and remove the seeds for later use in home remedies. Dried leaves and roots, although less potent, may be substituted for the Milk Thistle seeds.
* Milk Thistle seeds can cause mild diarrhea by stimulating the release of bile. This effect is most notable with a high-fat diet. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.