A review of the bioavailability and clinical efficacy of milk thistle phytosome: a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (Siliphos)

Altern Med Rev. 2005 Sep;10(3):193-203.


Certain of the water-soluble flavonoid molecules can be converted into lipid-compatible molecular complexes, aptly called phytosomes. Phytosomes are better able to transition from a hydrophilic environment into the lipid-friendly environment of the outer cell membrane, and from there into the cell, finally reaching the blood. The fruit of the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum, Family Asteraceae) contains flavonoids that are proven liver protectants. The standardized extract known as silymarin contains three flavonoids of the flavonol subclass. Silybin predominates, followed by silydianin and silychristin. Although silybin is the most potent of the flavonoids in milk thistle, similar to other flavonoids it is not well-absorbed. Silybin-phosphatidylcholine complexed as a phytosome provides significant liver protection and enhanced bioavailability over conventional silymarin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy
  • Milk Thistle*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy
  • Rats
  • Silybin
  • Silymarin / pharmacokinetics
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use


  • Drug Combinations
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Silymarin
  • Silybin