Milk thistle

Am Fam Physician. 2005 Oct 1;72(7):1285-8.


Milk thistle has been used as a cytoprotectant for the treatment of liver disease, for the treatment and prevention of cancer, and as a supportive treatment of Amanita phalloides poisoning. Clinical studies are largely heterogeneous and contradictory. Aside from mild gastrointestinal distress and allergic reactions, side effects are rare, and serious toxicity rarely has been reported. In an oral form standardized to contain 70 to 80 percent silymarin, milk thistle appears to be safe for up to 41 months of use. Significant drug reactions have not been reported. Clinical studies in oncology and infectious disease that are under way will help determine the efficacy and effectiveness of milk thistle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amanita
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Mushroom Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Protective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Seeds
  • Silybum marianum*
  • Silymarin / pharmacology
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Protective Agents
  • Silymarin