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Milk thistle is a plant that contains silymarin, a substance that some people take to help with liver function, diabetes, indigestion, and other conditions. It has been widely used in Europe, where it is a common complementary treatment for liver problems such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. In Canada, it is sold as a natural health product.
There isn't clear evidence from science that taking milk thistle as a natural health product helps with liver problems, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and inflammation of the bile ducts (cholangitis).
Milk thistle may cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, pain, or allergies.
The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, regulates natural health products in Canada. Natural health products, including milk thistle, must be reviewed and approved by the NNHPD before they can be sold in Canada.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a natural health product. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using natural health products, keep in mind the following:
Current as of: January 3, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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