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Does Milk Thistle Help Skin?

author image Eshe Asale
Eshe Asale is a holistic massage therapist who began writing in 1995 with articles appearing on various websites and in "Iqra" newspaper and the "Between Love, Hope and Fear" anthology. She holds a massage therapy certificate from Lourdes Institute, a Master of Arts in media studies/communications from Goldsmiths University and a Bachelor of Arts in writing and publishing/film studies from Middlesex University.
Does Milk Thistle Help Skin?
A purple bloom on a milk thistle plant growing in a meadow. Photo Credit coramueller/iStock/Getty Images

Milk thistle, or Silybum marianum, is a plant originating from the Mediterranean. This supplement is generally used as a home remedy for disorders of the liver, kidneys and gallbladder and is said to be helpful for those suffering from hepatitis and cirrhosis. It can boost your immune system while protecting and cleansing your liver from toxins. Milk thistle is said to have detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and demulcent properties, which may help improve the condition of your skin although the evidence to support these claims is minimal. Consult your physician before taking this supplement.

Improves Liver Function

Silymarin, a collection of flavonoids, is said to have detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2009 article on the University of Maryland website, silymarin may help the liver heal itself by stimulating the regeneration of new cells, although more studies need to be carried out to establish this. The demulcent properties of milk thistle lubricate and help to heal inflamed, dry and cracked mucus membranes, calming irritation of the kidneys and bladder. Milk thistle protects the liver from toxins resulting from drug use, alcohol abuse, medications and environmental pollutants, while toning it to improve overall health and your skin’s condition.

Improves Colon Function

In a 2007 article on The Environmental illness Resource website naturopath Gloria Gilbere discussed the issue of toxic overload in the body and the effects this has on your skin. According to Gilbere, congestion of the liver, compromised kidney function and an impacted colon all affect the skin, causing conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Milk thistle increases bile production in the intestinal tract, helping to soften stools while acting as a mild laxative to encourage regular bowel movements. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, fiber and pulses also can help to keep your colon clean.


The skin is the largest organ of your body and through it toxins are absorbed and expelled. Your overall health can be determined by the condition of your skin, and when disease or illness is evident you may experience acne, psoriasis, eczema or other skin complaints. Milk thistle not only helps to detoxify your liver, it keeps your colon clean to encourage the elimination of toxic waste. It’s also a blood purifier, and its cleansing and detoxifying action on your organs can greatly benefit your skin, keeping it healthy and clear. However, more research is required to support this theory.

Reduces Inflammation

A 2000 article on the Natural Health Information on Demand website highlights the effects of silymarin on psoriasis. Silymarin increases levels of glutathione, a detoxifying protein said to be deficient in psoriasis sufferers. Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes dry, red and scaly patches on the skin. When flare-ups occur, your skin can crack and bleed. Milk thistle's demulcent properties help to hydrate and soften dry skin, improving the texture, making it smooth and supple. Its inflammatory action calms redness and soothes irritation. Milk thistle also helps to clear symptoms associated with eczema. Speak to a health-care provider if you have any unusual symptoms.

Relieves Acne

According to a 2008 article on the Jigsaw Health website, liver dysfunction is the leading cause of acne. Your liver is responsible for filtering the blood. When the liver is damaged, your blood cannot be properly cleansed, making you susceptible to acne and other forms of skin disorders. Milk thistle improves liver function to facilitate the removal of impurities from your blood. The anti-inflammatory cooling effect of milk thistle eases inflammation and redness associated with acne. Check with your health-care provider to determine the cause of acne or skin irritation.

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