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The Important Thing I Learnt about Milk Thistle Today

For a while now, I have avoided milk thistle products. Unfortunately I got my source of information about milk thistle from “not so trustworthy” sites and believed it when they said I should avoid milk thistle as it had estrogenic qualities. Now, for anyone who has Endometriosis, we definitely want to avoid anything that has an estrogenic effect on the body. The more estrogenic something is, the more Endometriosis growth takes place and the more pain ensues.

I am currently studying phytotherapy for my degree in naturopathy and this week, we had to look at milk thistle. I had heard about milk thistle’s benefits for the liver many times but this is a truly astonishing herb! For so many years I have been dismissing it!

Here is what milk thistle can do:

  • It is a choleretic: this means it stimulates bile production within the liver. Bile production is really important to help us break down fats in the body.
  • It repairs the cells found in the liver. This is HUGE. That means, it has the ability to physically repair the liver.
  • It contains a constituent called silymarin which has been shown to work like an anti-oxidant in our bodies. This means, it sucks up the “bad stuff” in our bodies.
  • This same ingredient also reduces inflammation and has been shown to prevent skin cancers and tumors.
  • It reduces the formation of prostaglandins (which increase inflammation in the body) and reduces the auto-immune reaction in some patients.
Points of information sourced from the book Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy by Kerry Bone and Simon Mills, Pages 861-884

I could go on and on about how fabulous milk thistle is but the key thing I wanted to share with you today is that I was wrong. Milk thistle is not completely estrogenic! The constituents of the plant making up the leaves and flower are estrogenic and should definitely be avoided. As indicated by this website.

However, if we take milk thistle in a seed form, it is fantastic for our liver and our ultimate healing with Endometriosis. Now, I ran down to my health shop to discover that most supplements actually only use the seed form in their capsules. The big key with this is to note that the SEED IS OKAY but not the plant.

The good news is that I am researching all this stuff on a very deep level and look forward to sharing it all with you. I also discovered a whole heap of herbs we can use for our liver. I love healing the liver as a way of healing Endometriosis.


So, just to let you know that if you were ever worried about taking milk thistle—think again and just check it is the seed extract and not the leaves or plant.

Hugs, Melissa x
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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Perhaps also look at the Visanne as a contributor? The body doesn’t really like synthetic hormones 😉

  2. Na

    Be aware that milk thistle interferes with Hormones – because hormones are broken down in the liver. Therefore it is not recommended to take milk thistle while on any hormonal therapy (including BCP)
    I found this out the Hard way. I have been taking Visanne for 4 months and- after the 1st month-ish, adjustment- it’s been Wonderful!
    Then, last month thinking – Oh, I’ll support my liver, I started taking milk thistle tincture- And this month my cycle and All my problems returned.
    Don’t take it with ANY hormones!

  3. heidi

    Look at the book “heal endometriosis naturally” by Wendy Laidlaw…it changed my life!

  4. Rose Monica A.

    I took Milk Thistle in Seed form because of all the wonderful things I heard about it and within 24 hours I started bleeding. It did not stop for several days with painful cramps and all when in fact I had not had a period in two years because I am on a continuous birth control to control excessive bleeding. That said I had no choice but to stop taking it..and no, I would not recommend it especially if you have Endo stage four like myself..

  5. Melissa

    Yes. It is fabulous for the liver.

  6. CM

    See my message from November 10, 2017. How did you make out?

  7. Amanda

    Anyone have any idea how much milk thistle seed is good to take daily? Thanks!

  8. Nicole

    So good to see I am not the only one! It made my period come and it was so heavy so now I had my normal period and a week later, my milk thistle period… 🙁

  9. Anna Thomas

    Hi I suffer from emndometrisosi and cystic ovaries. Is it safe for me to take milk thistle as I really like the properties it has to help healthy lives function

  10. emma

    Just to confirm.
    Milk Thisle seed is fine, not the plant.
    I too suffer from Endo and have been taking Milk Thistle as of recent.
    The ingredients for the one I am having says
    Silybum marianum (milk thistle) seed extract dry concentrate 600mg, derived from Silybum marianum seed dry.
    Standardized to contain Flavanolignans calculated as Silybin.

    Is this one ok to take?

  11. Melissa

    Pleasure hun 🙂

  12. Cindy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this!! I have liver issues and endometriosis and I was so excited to start using milk thistle and then I read that it should be avoided if you have endometriosis. I decided to check other sources and thankfully came across yours. Thank you for the clarification! I will definitely start consuming the seeds after I have ground them and avoid the “plant” extracts. So appreciative of the work you are doing. God bless you!

  13. Melissa

    Hi Madeleine,

    They work differently on the liver so don’t see that they would be bad to take in combination. The key is to watch out for what type of Milk Thistle one is taking.

  14. Madeleine

    Please excuse the typos in my last comment! The most important thing I want to reiterate is that I have read IT IS NOT SAFE TO TAKE MILK THISTLE AND DIM AT THE SAME TIME. Good luck to all

  15. Madeleine

    Thank you so much for the info Melissa. I started taking milk thistle yesterday and then read it was estrogenic. I appreciate you clearing that up. I read below that more than one Endo sister is taking both milk thistle AND DIM. I don’t think that’s safe kadues. I have read gat you SHOULD NOT take them both at the same time.♥️

  16. CM

    Ovaries removed due to severe endometriosis more than ten years ago. I wanted to give my liver a month of milk thistle. Saw posts like this and felt it was fine as long as it said ‘seed’. From the bottle: 1 capsule = Milk Thistle Extract 175mg (Silybum marianum) (seed) (standardized to contain 80% Silymarin, 140mg)

    I took one in AM and one in PM. After a month I started bleeding from V. And I can feel the cramps that come with endometriosis. So that was enough to feed the hungry little beasts hidden within my body.

    Welcome any thoughts on what I misunderstood.

  17. Trisha

    Hi. I have recently found a cyst in my ovary which the OBGYN suspects to be endometriosis. It totally freaked me out and I started reading different blogs and saw a couple of herbs and supplements which I purchased and currently using.

    I am using 40000SPU serrapeptase (2caps, 3x a day), vitamin B supplements (with Magnesium and Zinc), Bee Propolis 500mg and Milk Thistle (seed extract + blessed thistle, 1cap 3x a day)

    I have also stopped eating any meat, dairy and soy products for the past 2 weeks. My diet currently consists of fruits, dark leafy vegetables, salmon and other kinds of fish.

    Can anyone advise if I am already taking a lot of supplements and should limit it to just one or two? I have also read an article that milk thistle is mildy estrogenic which also scares me. I also plan to take DIM.

    I am yet to see another doctor 2 days from now for a second opinion. Hopefully things get a little better.

    Thank you for your opinions!

    PS. Thanks Melissa for such a helpful website for endometriosis sufferers like us. Hopefully we can all get our ‘cure’ soon. ?

  18. Chrissy

    Melissa have you finished your studies? I have Endo and fatty liver not caused by alcohol. Just looking for good info on how to heal myself along side diet and exercise

  19. Sebelle

    Me too .

  20. Sarah Tefft

    I just purchased Gaia brand organic milk thistle seed tincture. I am starting with 30 drops in a liter of water today. I have been drinking milk thistle seed tea for a while but I understand it is very weak in comparison. Is this too strong of a dose to start? I am also taking DIM so I don’t want to overwhelm my system. If you Melissa or anyone else has any advice I’d GREATLY appreciate it. Thanks!

  21. k.moo.

    Jia, I don’t know if this was your issue, and I don’t know about tinctures, but I can tell you what happened to me the first time I took milk thistle:

    I got a strange pain in my abdomen and had to go with my pants unzipped that day. I did a little research and found out that for some people – not everybody- but for some people, when you first start using it, you can feel your liver. The milk thistle is doing all those great things and you can feel something happening. After that first day or two, I didn’t feel it anymore. Fast forward a couple years, I had stopped taking it, not for any real reason, I probably ran out and just didn’t buy anymore – so, one day I bought some. It had been a long time since I had taken it and the exact same thing happened to me. I could feel that liver tenderness. Then it went away. So, I don’t worry about it. Milk thistle is great for keeping your liver clean enough that it can dump out excess hormones everyday. I thought that might help you.

  22. Jia

    My experience with milk thistle was scary. I have endometriosis but did not know about using only the seeds. I got a tincture from the vitamin shoppe. It gave me a sharp pain in my chest. And an overall clammy feeling of doom. Thank you for letting us known about the ‘seeds’ only method to help our bodies better detox!

  23. Sue

    I’m not so enthousiastic about Milk Thistle. I started on a low dosage (10 drops a day) with the intention to build it up. My period wasn’t due but started almost inmediately. It also worsened my menorrhagia even more. I had to run to my med for tranexamic acid tot stop the bleeding. I didn’t want to discard it inmediately because of the suposed benefits and maybe I was just detoxing? Next month same problem. When I stopped the Milk Thistle my bleeding inmediataly went back to normal (well, my normal menorrhagia). It is therefor not something I would recommend with such problems.

  24. Melissa

    Looks good to me. Always ensure they are milk thistle seeds 🙂

  25. Nicole

    I am so glad I read this! I have been avoiding it as well for Endo and super bummed because of all it’s benefits. I am definitely going to try it now. I am hoping I don’t have a histamine reaction to it, as I read that was possible if you have certain weed allergies.

    Anyway, I’d be curious if you discover a favorable brand or tea. Thanks for posting!

  26. Clare

    Just found out….it increases the amount of glutathione in the liver!! Excellent!

  27. Melissa

    There are so many wonderful herbs and I would use and try a variety of herbs for Endo. I particularly like anything that focuses on cleansing the liver 🙂 I will certainly know more once I complete my Herbal studies 😉

  28. Clare

    This is really interesting Melissa. I have not investigated anything like this yet as I am taking chinese medicine at the moment in the form of actually boiling up the herbs in my kitchen (and getting acupuncture). I am seeing a very good TCM practitioner. This is why I have avoided other herbs for now because I don’t want any contraindications. Do you think this approach is correct or would it be ok to take milk thistle?
    It might be too early for you to tell but do you think the herbal remedies that you are currently studying might turn out to be more effective than TCM? I know you’re a big fan of TCM! I guess I feel a little in the dark about the herbs I am taking. They work as a formula in concert with each other and I just have to trust it as it’s difficult to find research. The formula is altered according to my symptoms.
    Glad you are enjoying your course and learning so much.

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I'm Melissa

Sick of dealing with endometriosis and ready to move forward?

I empower women to stop feeling like a victim to their endometriosis and find empowering ways to reduce pain & symptoms. 



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