New therapeutic potentials of milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Dec;8(12):1801-10.


Silymarin is a bioflavonoid complex extract derived from dry seeds of Milk thistle [(Silybum marianum(L.) Gaemrnt. (Fam. Asteraceae/Compositaceae)] whose hepatoprotective effect has clinically been proved. Low toxicity, favorable pharmacokinetics, powerful antioxidant, detoxifying, preventive, protective and regenerative effects and side effects similar to placebo make silymarin extremely attractive and safe for therapeutic use. The medicinal properties of silymarin and its main component silibinin have been studied in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, sepsis, burns, osteoporosis, diabetes, cholestasis and hypercholesterolemia. Owing to its apoptotic effect, without cytotoxic effects, silymarin possesses potential applications in the treatment of various cancers. Silymarin is being examined as a neuro-, nephro- and cardio-protective in the damage of different etiologies due to its strong antioxidant potentials. Furthermore, it has fetoprotective (against the influence of alcohol) and prolactin effects and is safe to be used during pregnancy and lactation. Finally, the cosmetics industry is examining the antioxidant and UV-protective effects of silymarin. Further clinical studies and scientific evidence that silymarin and silibinin are effective in the therapy of various pathologies are indispensable in order to confirm their different flavonolignan pharmacological effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Milk Thistle*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Silymarin / pharmacology
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Silymarin