Milk Thistle Seed Meal vs. Milk Thistle Extract

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by dhcpolwnk, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    I need some advice. I know that lots of folks on this board are much better informed than I am about herbs and supplements, and I'm confused.

    I've been taking freeze-dried milk thistle seed meal capsules for a while now, and they seem to have improved my liver function tests (up until recently). But because I had a very high result on my ALT and AST tests, my doctor had me repeat the tests today and may want me to have an ultrasound on my liver.

    All this made me look more closely at the milk thistle I've been taking--and do a little more research. Apparently, it's the sylymarin component of the capsules that is most important to liver health, and the capsules I've been taking average only 4% silymarin.

    On the other hand, I've seen ads for milk thistle extract with 80% silymarin.

    So which form of milk thistle is better--fresh, freeze-dried seed meal with only 4% silymarin or extract with 80% silymarin? Are there special benefits to taking the seed meal instead of the extract that would make up for the huge difference in the silymarin percentage?


    --Laura R.M.
  2. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    Thanks for the bump, Sam. Still no responses to this question, though, so I'm giving it another bump.

    --Laura R.M.

    [This Message was Edited on 11/02/2005]
  3. LollieBoo

    LollieBoo New Member

    I am a big fan of Nature's wisdom. Every plant has a purpose. There is an inherent synergy between all of the components of every plant. Once scientists come in an alter the plant's compostion, it (in my mind)ceases to be a natural medicine. That is not a bad thing, necessarily, it is just important to know what you are dealing with. Whole herbs are supportive and nourishing, as well as the other, what would be referred to as the primary purpose.

    Keep in mind, that the read out on a composite of any medicinal plant is several pages long. Scientists can not explain why everything that is in it is there. There is an assumption, in the case os Milk Thistle, that Silymarin is the active component.

    Several years ago, much hype was generated about St. John's Wort. At first, the claim was that one should look for a product standardized to contain .3% Hypericin. Shortly after, they amended it to standardization at .3% Hypericin AND 3% Hyperforin. Which is the part that makes it work? Is it a combination of both? Nobody knows.

    Keep in mind also, this: when standardizetion was first introduced, it was because herbal preparations were becoming more mainstream. Businesses trying to capitalize off of this boom often sold the cheapest thing they could put in a capsule and call it a plant. For instance, Milk Thistle- it's seeds are the most medicinal part of the plant. There were businesses that would put leaves, stems- whatever into capsules, market it as 'Milk Thistle', with a price comparative to the cost of the seed. So initially, the idea of standardization was for our protection. In order to be labeled as such, a product must have at least x amount of abc in it, or it would be assumed it was impure or not active. This mutated into the 'tweaking' of a plant's natural profile- amplifying the 'active' ingredient and downplaying the other natural components.

    That said, if the brand that you are using is fresh freeze dried- then it is of a very high quality. Eclectic Institute uses whole herbs, so you always get the whole, balanced profile of the herb you are using. They fresh freeze dry, which is why I mention them. Even with all the hype around St. John's Wort needing to be standardized for efficiacy in treating depressionand other issues, EI just increased the amount of Fresh freeze dried herb until their assay was at or above the reccommendations. I guess I didn't mean that to be a plug for EI, but they are one of very few companies who base their business principles on the ethics and virtues they know to be the most beneficial.

    I would suggest that perhaps rather than doing Milk Thistle alone, you add in a few other supportive herbs and nutrients. When your liver clears itself of toxins, they need a clear pathway through which to exit the body. My very favorite liver support/ detox is (surprise!) by EI. It is called Vita Lipotropic. It has Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Choline, Inositol, some B vitamin and some other wonderful additions that my brain fog is currently obscuring. You may just try adding fresh or frrese-dried dandelion greens... But that's just my opinion!

    And sorry it's so long!

    Have Fun!
    Lollie
  4. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    Thanks for the explanation, Lollie. As a matter of fact, Eclectic Institute is the brand of milk thistle I've been taking. It's just awkward to need six capsules a day to get the same amount of sylmarin that I might be able to get in one or two capsules of the extract. I'm planning to talk to a very well-informed man at the Vitamin Shoppe later today and see what he says. He recommended a terrific probiotics product when I was dealing with oral thrush, and I think that's what finally got rid of it (or at least got it under conttol).

    I hope others on this board will chime in with their opinions/experience with standardized symarin extract vs. more complete products like EI's milk thistle. But I thank you for taking the time to send me your very helpful explanation.

    --Laura R.M.
  5. windblade

    windblade Active Member

    I would like to know more info. on just the question you are asking.

    I'm going for my second liver test next week - I am still trying to take in that I have hepatitis - and what to do about it.

    I would love to know what the guy at Vit.Shoppe explains.
    I just started taking 112 mg. made from seeds, but not freeze-dried. The freeze-dried is better?

    Lollie -All that info. about other supportive herbs, is great info. I'm glad to have it.

    Blessings to you both.
  6. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    I wound up getting standardized milk thistle extract to replace the EI freeze-dried milk thistle seed meal. Our guy at the Vitamin Shoppe (who was very helpful when I was trying to control oral candidiasis) said that for the elevated liver enzymes, the silymarin was the key ingredient. They carry many different varieties and strengths of silymarin extract, and he recommended the strongest (300 mg. capsules that were 80% silymarin). By contrast, my EI freeze-dried sead meal capsules contain only 24 mg per capsule. That means I'd have to take 10 of the EI capsules to get the same amount of silymarin that's in just one of the high-dose extract capsules.

    It may very well be that for other things, the seed meal extract may be better. But I think there is research showing that the silymarin is the part of milk thistle that is helpful with liver function. So I'm going to start on the new stuff tomorrow. If my future liver tests are good, the guy at the Vitamin Shoppe suggested that I can replace the 300-mg capsules with 150-mg or 75-mg ones for maintenance.

    --Laura R.M.
  7. Casamadre5

    Casamadre5 Member

    I have been getting mail order from Swanson Health ..good results with their formulas of many different herbal products. Just a thought- for liver cleanse I do 3 days of 8oz. of Martinellis apple juice each hour. On final night mix 1/2 cup virgin olive oil into juice. My liver tests have been fine since using the Milk Thistle and doing the cleanse every couple months. Of course everyone should use discretion on what is suitable for you. Ah, to be painfree, now that is a proposition!
  8. windblade

    windblade Active Member

    for posting his reply. Now, when I get my blood results back next week, I'll have some info. to work with.

    Hope it works well for you - and your next test is a better one.
  9. windblade

    windblade Active Member

    My cfs Dr. recc. the same liver flush with the olive oil,etc. It sounds horrible, but I'm definitely going to do it now that I have liver problems. That's really encouraging - how well it helped.

    Do you know if it's always called hepatitis no matter what the numbers are? I guess it's that name that's really scaring me - although I know there's all different kinds. Well, I'll find out soon.

    Thanks.