Milk thistle is commonly used by bodybuilders and athletes focused on weight gain as a complement to protein and nutritional supplements. Many believe milk thistle is integral in improving liver function and protecting it from damage that may occur with supplement use. Milk thistle is also touted as a toxin-removing "cleanse." However, milk thistle's purported benefits have not all been proven by medical science, and it does have the potential for uncomfortable side effects.
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Purchase milk thistle in one of the four following forms: as a dried herb capsule, liquid or alcohol extract, tincture or silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex. The latter complex is the most popular form because its high level of silymarin makes it easier for the body to absorb milk thistle. Alcohol extract should not be taken if you are using milk thistle to help cope with liver damage from alcohol.
Take 200 to 400 mg of milk thistle 1 to 3 times each day, if you are taking the supplement. If you are taking milk thistle as a dried herb, consume 12 to 15 grams of the dried herb with a meal.
Grind dried milk thistle and put it into a cereal, oatmeal or other flavorful food. Many people don't like the taste of the supplement and prefer to disguise it in another food. Conversely, you can bring water to a boil and put milk thistle in it to make tea.
If you are using a liquid milk thistle extract, add it to juice or another flavored beverage to make the supplement more palatable.