8 Incredible Benefits of Milk Thistle Tea

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The most important health benefits of milk thistle tea include healing the liver, soothing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, improving digestion, and detoxifying the body. It also aids in regulating blood sugar levels and preventing chronic disease.

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’ is derived from the milky substance that comes out when you crush the flowers of this plant.

This plant is native to the Mediterranean region, is quite hardy, and can survive in temperate and moderate climates, which is why it is now found all over the world. It 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. [1]

Health Benefits of Milk Thistle Tea

Drinking milk thistle tea is particularly effective for people suffering from diabetes, indigestion, arthritis, anxiety, and obesity. These powerful effects are due to the presence of silymarin, the active ingredient, as well as other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Protects Against Liver Damage

Milk thistle tea is often prescribed for liver treatments. It contains silymarin, an active ingredient, which is composed of three different flavonoids. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology directly links silymarin to repairing liver cells and protecting against liver damage induced by acetaminophen. According to several studies, it is also used in cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma.  [2]

A cup of milk thistle tea with milk thistle blossoms on a blue wooden table

A beautiful cup of tea and milk thistle flower on the saucer Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Reduces Inflammation

This herbal tea has quite a few anti-inflammatory properties that can ease the pain of arthritis, gout, headaches, migraines, aches, joint disorders, and stomach upset, among many others. [4]

Protects Heart Health

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 diseases. [5]

Weight Loss

Many weight loss specialists recommend milk thistle tea for people trying to lose weight. It can stimulate the metabolism and suppress the appetite, increasing passive fat-burning and helping people resist snacking in between the meals. [6]

Reduces Digestive Issues

If you suffer from constipation, bloating, cramping, or excess flatulence, milk thistle tea can optimize your digestive system, relieve inflammation in the gut tissues, and ensure that proper nutrient uptake is taking place. [7]

Detoxifies the Body

By improving the health and function of the liver, in addition to being a diuretic substance, milk thistle tea is excellent for 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. [8]

Controls Diabetes

The blood sugar-regulating properties of milk thistle tea are extremely important for people with diabetes. According to a recent study by Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, silymarin supplementation improves blood glucose levels and lipid profiles of type-2 diabetes patients. Although, further studies are needed to validate the use of silymarin for metabolic control of type-2 diabetes patients. [9]

Prevents Chronic 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 diseases, cellular mutation, and apoptosis. High antioxidant levels improve the health of the entire body and can even slow down the aging process! [10]

How to 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.

A cup of milk thistle tea with milk thistle blossoms on a blue wooden table

Milk Thistle Tea & Coffee Recipe

Two delightful beverages made by steeping milk thistle
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Tea, Coffee
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Milk Thistle Tea, Milk Thistle Coffee
Appliance: Tea infuser, Kettle, French Press
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Raksha Hegde


Milk Thistle Tea Recipe

  • 1 tbsp milk thistle seeds powdered
  • 2 cups water filtered

Milk Thistle Coffee Recipe

  • 1 tbsp milk thistle seeds powdered
  • 1 tbsp roasted dandelion root powdered
  • 1 tbsp roasted chicory root powdered
  • 2 cups water filtered
  • sugar or honey to taste


Milk Thistle Tea Recipe

  • In a tea infuser, add 1 tablespoon of milk thistle seeds (ground into a powder). Place the tea infuser in a mug, cup or teapot. 
  • Add freshly boiled water and let it brew for 3-5 minutes. Add honey, if desired. Enjoy your homemade milk thistle tea!
    A cup of milk thistle tea with milk thistle blossoms on a blue wooden table

Milk Thistle Coffee Recipe

  • Add the milk thistle, dandelion root, and chicory root to a French press. 
  • Bring water to a boil and then add to the French press. Allow the mixture to steep for 10-15 minutes.
  • Depress the plunger of the French press slowly so that you get the fresh coffee decoction. Add sugar or honey if desired. It is best enjoyed immediately!
    A cup of dandelion coffee next to sugar cubes, a cream jug, muffins, and a journal on a blue counter

Side Effects of Milk Thistle Tea

Milk thistle tea can have a number of side effects, such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Sweating
  • 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 are related to stomach upset and inflammation of the gut. [11]

  • Diabetics: Due to the blood sugar-lowering properties of this tea, it can be dangerous for diabetics 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 during pregnancy and breastfeeding is okay, and has no notable side effects, you should be very careful about what you consume during pregnancy.
  • 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.

Speak to your doctor before adding any new tea to your health regimen.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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