On the lookout for an effective weight loss supplement? Having difficulty choosing a supplement that not only works for you, but also one that actually works?
The world of weight loss supplements can be tricky to navigate.
With so many supplements available, making bold claims and tempting you with smart marketing techniques, it’s no surprise there is more confusion than ever around the topic when these fancy supplements leave you with no results.
This article focuses on milk thistle, a prickly plant known primarily for its benefits on liver health. However, can milk thistle also help weight loss?
Read on to find out!
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is a herb derived from the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum).
Milk thistle is known for its distinctive prickly look with purple flowers and white veins, which are traditionally said to be caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk falling onto its leaves.
The few active ingredients in milk thistle are known collectively as silymarins. The extract of milk thistle has high amounts of silymarin, and is thought to have antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Milk thistle is mainly known for its benefits on liver and gallbladder issues, but it is also thought to help promote breast milk production and have liver-protective properties.
Before we delve into the details of the benefits, let's answer the burning question: can milk thistle help weight loss?
Can Milk Thistle Help Weight Loss?
As milk thistle is best known for its liver-protective benefits, you may be wondering how this has anything to do with weight loss.
Turns out, the effects of milk thistle on managing type 2 diabetes have been researched a few times, which is likely where the weight loss claims have stemmed from.
Studies have shown that milk thistle may be a useful herb in managing type 2 diabetes.
One of the many compounds found in milk thistle may work in a similar way to some diabetic medications by helping improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar.1
One review found that people taking milk thistle (as silymarin) experienced a significant reduction in some measures of blood sugar control, such as fasting blood sugar levels.2
However, this review has also stated that the studies in question were not of a very high quality, so no recommendations can currently be made around milk thistle and managing type 2 diabetes.2
So, what does this have to do with the weight loss claims?
Balancing our blood sugar levels can help prevent weight gain, make weight loss easier to achieve, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and reduces stress hormones and inflammation, which can also affect weight gain to some extent.
However, the studies conducted on milk thistle being a potentially effective herb in managing type 2 diabetes don’t necessarily apply to those without type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, the studies were poor quality, and more research needs to be done to form a more concrete assumption around these claims.
In conclusion: it appears that, at the time of writing, milk thistle has little to no impact on weight loss.
Even if it is effective in managing type 2 diabetes, this doesn’t necessarily mean it would directly impact weight loss.
We would suggest saving your money this time - that’s if you’re planning to take milk thistle for weight loss!
Though, it appears milk thistle may provide other health benefits. Let’s take a look!
What Can Milk Thistle Help With?
While milk thistle doesn’t seem to provide any help with weight loss, it may provide other health benefits, such as:
- Liver-Protecting Properties
Milk thistle is more commonly known for its liver-protecting benefits.
Milk thistle is thought to be an herbal remedy for those who have liver damage caused by certain conditions such as alcoholic liver disease and hepatitis.3
It may also potentially protect the liver against toxins, inflammation, and free radical damage, though, more research is needed in this area to confirm the exact mechanisms behind it.
- Treating Acne
Due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of milk thistle, it may potentially help those suffering with acne.
One study has some interesting findings around milk thistle's effect on acne lesions, stating that those who took a daily dose of silymarin for 8 weeks experienced a 53% decrease in lesions.4
More research is needed to back up this study and the claims, but it does look promising.
- Boosting Breast Milk Production
One study has suggested that milk thistle may help boost breast milk production in lactating mothers.5
However, due to lack of studies, more research is needed to confirm this, as well as the safety of taking milk thistle for breastfeeding mother.
As always, speak to your doctor before taking any new supplement, particularly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Milk Thistle For Weight Loss: Final Conclusion
Milk thistle is a prickly herb known for its potential effects on liver health, mainly due to the active compounds collectively known as silymarins.
Milk thistle may potentially have liver-protective, antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as potentially being a treatment for acne, and boosting breast milk production.
While there is some research around milk thistle possibly being effective in controlling blood sugar levels and helping to manage type 2 diabetes, these claims are unclear and do not currently suggest any benefits to weight loss.
In summary, save your money on this supposed weight loss supplement, and opt for something like Burn Lab Pro instead - a highly effective, safe, and clean fat burner that can help manage blood sugar levels, burn more calories, boost training performance, and promote lean muscle growth.
- Kazazis CE, Evangelopoulos AA, Kollas A, Vallianou NG. The therapeutic potential of milk thistle in diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud. 2014 Summer;11(2):167-74.
- Voroneanu L, Nistor I, Dumea R, Apetrii M, Covic A. Silymarin in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016:5147468.
- Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1423-32.
- Sahib, A.S., Al-Anbari, H.H., Salih, M. and Abdullah, F., 2012. Effects of oral antioxidants on lesion counts associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in patients with papulopustular acne. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res, 3(5), pp.1-6
- Di Pierro F, Callegari A, Carotenuto D, Tapia MM. Clinical efficacy, safety and tolerability of BIO-C (micronized Silymarin) as a galactagogue. Acta Biomed. 2008 Dec;79(3):205-10.