Working with liver issues as often as I do, you can bet I’ve dispensed a lot of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) in my time. And for a long while, I rotated between giving a strong tincture and a strong decoction. I certainly saw results, but was always a bit frustrated by what felt like unlocked potential to me. I’d long suspected the best form of delivery was directly eating the seed, but I’ve had a very difficult time getting client compliance.
Over the last year though, I’ve discovered that if you grind the seed fine enough (to a fine powder) that it tastes really nice, especially in smoothies and apple sauce. This has way upped compliance, and seems more bioavailable when all ground up that way too. As a result, I’ve seen something like a tenfold increase in beneficial therapeutic results from this preparation.
It’s especially useful for those stabbing liver pains that occur from stress or bad food in people with viral hepatitis. I’ve seen them go from being a regular daily thing (even on a hardcore herb regimen and good diet) to non-existent in two to three weeks. If you’ve ever dealt with the frightening persistence of such pain, you’ll understand what a very good thing this is. Other benefits I’ve observed include a significant lessening in hepatitis related psoriasis and seeming increased immune response.
Current dosage I’m working with is 2-3 Tb per day for an adult male of average size. I’d like to increase that dosage to see if results also increase, but have to work based on what the individual will tolerate. I strongly recommend grinding your own seed for optimal freshness or getting it from a supplier who grinds when you make the order (instead of keeping bulk amounts of powdered herbs on hand, which tends to noticeably decrease the power of most plants). It does seem important to get a sizable material dose into the body for the best results.
I have noticed that Milk Thistle tincture will work fine for more minor issues, but that the more acute or intense cases really benefit from the ingestion of the actual seed. This also works better than large doses of isolated silymarin (surprise surprise). Milk Thistle is fairly neutral energetically, and I’ve rarely seen side effects from their usage, although there was one woman who found even small amounts of the seed to very loosening to her bowels. She felt that this was likely an energetic thing, rather than a consistent physiological reaction.
The taste is kind of malty, smooth and a bit oily, actually very yummy if you grind it fine enough to eradicate any grit. This plant is super easy to grow too, although you generally need to grow a whole garden full to get a useful amount of seed. Also, the plant seems to spread very very easily so be aware of invasiveness potential. It has beautiful milk colored dappled leaves and a nice presence in the garden if you can keep it under control.