Natural Benefits of Milk Thistle

Natural Benefits of Milk Thistle

Natural Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant with distinctive purple-pink thistle-like flowers and spiky green leaves with white veins. Milk Thistle is regarded as an invasive species and can grow in a vast range of conditions even in areas where growing conditions are less than favourable for most other plant species. Despite this reputation, milk thistle is actually a very useful plant.

Milk Thistle is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to manage a variety of ailments in humans and animals. Milk thistle is a natural remedy that humans have been using for centuries to promote liver health and protect the liver from damage caused by toxins. Due to its liver-protective properties, it is commonly fed to horses as a dietary supplement, primarily used to support liver function. 

Active Ingredient in Milk Thistle 

The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, a flavonoid complex that has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It's believed to work by helping to reduce inflammation in the liver and protecting liver cells from damage caused by toxins, such as those found in certain medications or environmental pollutants.

Some studies have shown that milk thistle may be beneficial in the treatment of liver disease in horses, including hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver), equine viral arteritis (EVA), and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). Additionally, it may be beneficial in the management of equine metabolic syndrome(EMS) and laminitis, by helping to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.

In addition to its medicinal properties, milk thistle is also a rich source of nutrients, including potassium and vitamins C & E ,which have important health benefits for horses.

Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties protecting cells from damage due to free radicals as well providing immune support. It also plays a very important role in the production of collagen which is necessary for all tissues within the body and the healing of wounds.

Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant and plays an important role in immune health, it is also essential for muscle function and may help reduce muscle damage during exercise.

Potassium is necessary to promote electrolyte balance in body cells and tissues. It is also required for nerve, cardiac and muscle function.

Is Milk Thistle Safe for Horses?

Milk thistle is generally considered safe for horses, with few reported side effects. It is available in various forms such as capsules, powders, and liquid extracts and can be administered to horses orally or topically. 

Milk thistle seeds are one of the most common and easy ways to supply milk thistle in your horse’s diet. Milk thistle seeds are often available to purchase on their own or are a key ingredient in many dietary supplements, particularly those marketed towards older horses who may require additional liver support. 

If you have any concerns about feeding milk thistle to your horse we recommend contacting a vet or a nutritionist who will be able to offer further advice. Our expert team are always on hand to answer any horse nutrition queries you may have.

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