A novel approach for the efficient extraction of silybin from milk thistle fruits

Pharmacogn Mag. 2014 Oct;10(40):536-40. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.141799.


Background: Milk Thistle fruit is an important herb popularly consumed worldwide for a very long time. Silybin is the main bioactive constituent of the herb, and it has been approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medicine to treat liver diseases. Presently, using conventional technology, the meal of Milk Thistle fruit is used as the raw material to extract silybin.

Objective: To investigate the necessity of detaching husk from kernel of the herb and also to propose a novel approach to enhance the extraction technology in pharmaceutical practices.

Materials and methods: The husk of Milk Thistle fruit was detached from the kernel of the herb using an automatic huller specially designed for this application. The husk and the meal of Milk Thistle fruit was subsequently refluxed, separately, with production rate of silybin as index for comparison of their extraction effect.

Results: The highest production rate was achieved under optimized condition. The husk was extracted 2 times (3 hrs each) using ethyl acetate, and the ratio of solvent to raw material was 8:1. The extract was allowed to be crystallized out.

Conclusion: The separation of kernel from the husk of Milk Thistle fruit and using only the husk as raw material can largely enhance the extraction of silybin.

Keywords: Husk of milk thistle fruits; milk thistle fruits; silybin.