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Should People With Fibroids Take Milk Thistle?

by
author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
Should People With Fibroids Take Milk Thistle?
A milk thistle plant in bloom. Photo Credit desy_sevdanova/iStock/Getty Images

Fibroids are relatively common non-cancerous growths that can appear anywhere on the inside or outside of a woman’s uterus. There are a variety of nonsurgical and surgical methods available for reducing or removing fibroids. However, use of the supplement milk thistle will not help reduce fibroids or ease fibroid symptoms. Consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

Background

In medical terms, fibroids are also known as myomas or leiomyomas. They typically form in uterine muscle tissue, and can appear in locations that include the uterine wall, the interior uterine space and the uterine exterior. They can also hang from the uterine wall on fleshy stalks called peduncles. Some fibroids are roughly the size of a pea, while others can reach a size of roughly 5-6 inches in diameter. Some women develop a single fibroid, while others develop fibroids in groups. Most women with fibroid growths don’t have any noticeable symptoms, but potential consequences of their presence include pain, pressure, menstrual changes, abdominal uterine enlargement, infertility and miscarriage.

Milk Thistle Uses

Milk thistle supplements are derived from a plant species called Silybum marianum. They contain an active ingredient called silymarin, which in turn is a collective term for three separate compounds called silidianin, silicristin and silibinin. Silymarin is both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and it appears to achieve its beneficial effects by repairing liver cells damaged by toxins and preventing their destruction. Potential uses of milk thistle include counteracting the effects of poisonous mushrooms, treatment of viral hepatitis and treatment of alcohol-related liver disease. This supplement may also help protect you from certain forms of cancer.

Fibroid Treatment Options

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health lists nonsurgical treatment options for fibroids that include acetaminophen or ibuprofen for mild pain, iron supplementation, low-dose birth control pills, injection with hormone-like medications, use of an intrauterine device that contains a hormone-like medication, and use of drugs classified as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, or GnRHas. Surgical procedures used to remove, reduce or destroy fibroids include myomectomy, endometrial ablation, uterine fibroid embolization, uterine artery embolization, ultrasound surgery and hysterectomy.

Considerations

Women whose fibroids don’t cause symptoms may not need any kind of treatment, the Office on Women’s Health notes. Additional factors that go into determining an appropriate course of fibroid treatment include the location and size of your fibroids, your age, the possibility or desirability of future pregnancy and your proximity to the onset of menopause. Consult your doctor for more information on appropriate treatments for uterine fibroids, as well as information on the potential uses of milk thistle.

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