Milk thistle extract is a natural medicine used in treating liver diseases, such as jaundice, cirrhosis, hepatitis and gallbladder disorders, says WebMD. Some researchers have suggested it can lower cholesterol levels and help diabetics suffering from cirrhosis and type 2 diabetes. Several studies claim that substances in the extract protect the liver from toxins that can lead to liver damage, states the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The main ingredient in milk thistle extract is known as silymarin, and it is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, explains WebMD. It is not yet clear what benefits this ingredient has in the body. Medical studies have shown that combining milk thistle with traditional treatment can help manage diabetes. It works by decreasing blood sugar levels and improving cholesterol in type 2 diabetes patients. Patients need to talk to a doctor before using milk thistle extract for diabetes or liver diseases.
The dosage for an oral form of milk thistle extract is 420 milligrams per day, and it is possibly safe up to 41 months, explains Drugs.com. There are no serious side effects related to this extract, but the only reported effect is brief gastrointestinal disturbances. As of 2015, there is insufficient information to give proper advice to pregnant and nursing women on drug interactions.