Milk thistle / Silymarin
Milk thistle is added to Meatsnax due to its powerful antioxidant effects that could help reduce symptoms of liver disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Milk thistle is of European origin, it is a flowering plant from the Aster family, which also includes daisies. Milk thistle was prized as liver tonic by Roman emperors. It is one of the few herbs used in conjunction with conventional Western medicine for humans. The active ingredient is silymarin, which makes up about 80 percent of milk thistle extracts and powders.
The uses for dogs are similar to those for humans. Milk thistle has demonstrated effectiveness in protecting the liver against toxins and stimulating growth of cells to replace those that are killed or damaged. Milk thistle is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
In humans, milk thistle is used primarily for treating liver diseases, such as cirrosis of the liver, but in dogs, it is also being successfully used in the treatment of diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It reduces inflammation of the liver and bile ducts that occur during IBD, and stabilizes red blood cells affected by diabetes.
Uses of Milk Thistle
Currently, veterinarians are prescribing milk thistle to combat liver disease, diabetes and IBD, but many others believe that there are other beneficial uses.
Milk thistle could also promote faster recovery from adverse reactions to vaccinations and illnesses such as parvovirus, which can do serious damage to your dog's body. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle could help dogs recover more quickly.
Research at Case Western University even suggests that milk thistle might assist in the treatment of cancer. Their research showed that the effects of milk thistle protected the body from tumor promotion. This research provides hope that milk thistle could be used along with chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer and help the body recover more quickly from such treatment.
The results of numerous studies suggest that silymarin not only protects liver cells by preventing the actions of toxic substances but that it also stimulates protein synthesis to accelerate the regeneration and production of liver cells. Silymarin also has antioxident properties that prevent free radical damage and the formation of damaging leukotrienes (a group of biologically active compounds).
No toxic effects from milk thistle have been reported, but it can produce a looser stool as a result of increased bile flow and secretion. Milk thistle can also have an effect on the absorption of some medications, because the liver is processing the substances more efficiently.
One well known controlled study involved the use of the Amanita phalloides mushroom, which contains two of the most toxic liver poisons, (phalloidin and amanitin). Ingestion of this mushroom leads to death in up to 40% of cases and severe liver damage in the balance. Silymarin given before ingestion of this mushroom is effective in 100% of cases in preventing death and liver damage. As an antidote given within 24 to 36 hours silymarin has been found to reduce liver damage and prevent death.