Some of the most important health benefits of milk thistle tea include healing the liver, soothing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, improving digestion, detoxifying the body, regulating blood sugar levels and preventing chronic disease. There are a number of notable side effects as well, such as nausea, rash, bloating, weakness, insomnia, irritability, sweating and increased pulse rate, among others, but these side effects are quite rare. Most studies have found milk thistle to be safe even when consumed in larger quantities than recommended, and for extended periods of time (daily use for years).
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What is Milk Thistle Tea?
Milk thistle tea is made by steeping crushed or powdered seeds from the milk thistle plant, which has the scientific name Silybum marianum. The name “milk thistle”, however, is derived from the milky substance that comes out when you crush the flowers of this plant. While this plant is native to the Mediterranean region, it is quite hardy and can survive in temperate and moderate climates, which is why it is now found all over the world. This plant has been used in traditional medicine practices for thousands of years, due to the powerful active ingredients found in the flowers and seeds, and continues to be a favorite choice for natural health practitioners.
Health Benefits of Milk Thistle Tea
Drinking milk thistle tea is particularly effective for people suffering from diabetes, cancer, indigestion, inflammatory conditions, arthritis, high cholesterol, hypertension, anxiety, obesity, cirrhosis, liver disease, constipation, bloating, cramping and high toxicity levels. These powerful effects are due to the presence of sylmarin, the active ingredient, as well as other antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
One of the most difficult organs to repair and heal is the liver, which is why liver cirrhosis and other conditions affecting the liver can be so serious. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, composed of three different flavonoids, is directly linked to repairing liver cells and helping liver disease patients recover.
This herbal tea has quite a few anti-inflammatory properties and compounds that can ease the pain of arthritis, gout, headaches, migraines, aches, joint disorders and stomach upset, among many others.
Milk thistle tea is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which relieves the strain and stress on the cardiovascular system. This can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes, as well as coronary heart disease.
Many weight loss specialists recommend milk thistle tea for people who are trying to lose weight. It can stimulate the metabolism and suppress the appetite, increasing passive fat-burning and helping people resist snacking between meals.
If you suffer from constipation, bloating, cramping, constipation or excess flatulence, milk thistle tea can optimize your digestive system, relieve the inflammation in the gut tissues, and ensure that proper nutrient uptake is taking place. While the side effects of drinking milk thistle tea can increase stomach upset, this is not common.
Detoxifying the Body
By improving the health and function of the liver, in addition to being a diuretic substance, milk thistle tea is excellent at cleansing the body and reducing strain on the renal and lymphatic systems. Increasing urination can aid kidney and bladder health, and eliminate excess toxins, fats, salts and water from the body.
The blood sugar-regulating properties of milk thistle tea are extremely important for people suffering from diabetes. It can increase resistance to insulin, which prevents the major spikes and drops in glucose levels following a meal of simple carbohydrates. This tea is also good for people who are at high risk for diabetes, and can effectively help prevent developing this disease.
The flavonoids and other antioxidants found in this tea are able to counter oxidative stress and the activity of free radicals in the body, which are responsible for chronic disease, cellular mutation and apoptosis. High antioxidant levels improve the health of the entire body, and can even slow down the aging process!
How Do You Make Milk Thistle Tea?
Preparing milk thistle tea can be done in a number of ways, either as a pure tea, or in combination with other herbal teas and ingredients. The taste of milk thistle tea can be unpleasant to some people, so sweeteners or herbal combinations are quite popular. To begin with, you should decide whether to use milk thistle extract or actual powdered milk thistle seeds. If you use the extract, you only need to add 20 drops to a cup of hot water. It is recommended to drink this tea before meals to aid digestion.
Milk Thistle Tea Recipe
- 1 tablespoon of milk thistle seeds (ground into a powder)
- 2 cups of water (filtered)
- 1 teaspoon of organic honey, if desired
Step 1 – Fill a tea bag with the powdered milk thistle seeds.
Step 2 – Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Step 3 – Pour the hot water over the tea bag in a cup and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
Step 4 – Remove the tea bag, add the honey for flavor, and enjoy!
Milk Thistle Coffee Recipe
- 1 tablespoon of milk thistle seeds (powdered)
- 1 tablespoon of roasted dandelion root (powdered)
- 1 tablespoon of roasted chicory root (powdered)
- 2 cups of water (filtered)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar, if desired
Step 1 – Add the milk thistle, dandelion root and chicory root to a French press
Step 2 – Bring water to a boil and then add to the French press.
Step 3 – Stirring regularly, allow the mixture to steep for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4 – Depress the French press and pour out the coffee.
Step 5 – Add sweetener, if needed, and enjoy!
Side Effects of Milk Thistle Tea
Milk thistle tea can have a number of side effects, such as:
- Skin rash
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Vomiting and overall weakness.
However, these are mainly experienced by people who are sensitive or allergic to milk thistle, and can be quite severe. The most common side effects relate to stomach upset and inflammation of the gut. Speak to your doctor or allergist before adding any herbal teas to your health regimen. Some of the other considerations and warnings apply to the following people.
- Diabetic Patients – Due to the blood sugar-lowering properties of this tea, it can be dangerous for diabetic patients who are already on medication to lower their blood sugar. Overlapping these two treatments can cause blood sugar to fall to dangerous levels.
- Pregnant Women – While anecdotal reports argue that drinking this tea while pregnant and breast-feeding is okay, and has no notable side effects, you should be very careful about what you consume during pregnancy, and speak to your doctor before adding anything to your pregnancy health regimen.
- Drug Interactions – Milk thistle tea has many active ingredients that can interact with drugs for everything from diabetes and hypertension to sleep aids and liver disease. Always speak to your doctor about possible interactions with medications you might already be taking.