Are you choking down packages or handfuls of supplements trying to stay healthy? Me too! The nurse in me and lessons learned from my mother, a nursing instructor, brings out curiosity about the composition of the supplements. Mama relied on the Physicians Desk Reference(PDR) whenever a doc even so much as mentioned a potential new medication for her. Indeed, herbs have been used for centuries in medicine and wellness, but it’s best to consult with your doc or PA or someone in the know (other than the person selling it to you OR the “research” sent to you from the company selling it to you!) before plunking down a wad of cash for something that really may not be necessary.photo source. Wikipedia
We were in Asheville, NC a couple of weeks ago, and outside our condo was this spiky plant with a purple bloom- milk thistle. Milk Thistle is one herb(of many) I found on the ingredients list of the supplement package I am researching. Silymarin is the actual ingredient extracted from the spiky milk thistle plant. Supplements are made from the ripe seed or fruit of the milk thistle plant, not the roots, stems or leaves. Although there is not abundant research, this ingredient is believed to have liver protective properties, but there is not a whole lot of info(as in research/studies) out there about the long term effects of consuming milk thistle.
This herb has relatives including ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies and marigolds, so if you are allergic to any of these plants, you will want to chat with your healthcare provider before actually consuming the product.
Milk Thistle is classified as a ”dietary supplement”. Companies manufacturing dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA which means their claims are not tightly scrutinized. Although, milk thistle has been used in very focused clinical trials with limited numbers of people, there is not much solid investigative research to prove the “live protective” properties. There is research showing the protective qualities of milk thistle when undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Interestingly, Dr. Paul Offit , strongly challenges the “church of vitamins and supplements” in his book “Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine”. All proceeds from this book go to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Those of us considering supplements should do our homework. Certain groups of people are more affected by supplements than others. There are medication interactions you may not be aware of so it is always prudent to discuss any complementary health practices with your health professional.
Meanwhile, here’s to good health!
www.cancer.org American Cancer Society