(March, 2011) Milk thistle has been used to treat liver disorders for more than 2,000 years, but it’s only recently been shown to have protective effects for the skin. Silibinin, a compound that’s abundant in milk thistle, may reduce the effects of aging on the skin. Recent studies suggest that it also may protect against skin cancer. Increasingly found in creams and other products for the skin, hair, and nails, silibinin is nontoxic and has been shown to be a strong antioxidant.
“Skin is the most important protective barrier in our body and directly exposed to the harsh environment,” wrote the authors of a recent review in the journal Clinical Dermatology. “Most of the deleterious effects of the environmental toxicants are visibly manifested on the skin, including that of aging.” The authors noted that silibinin “has been studied extensively and found to protect the skin from the harmful effects of a number of toxicants, including those by ultraviolet radiation.”
Milk thistle is available as a dietary supplement, often as a tablet or capsule.
The National Cancer Institute has stated that compounds in milk thistle, including silibinin, function to stabilize cellular membranes, inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells, aid in detoxification, and neutralize free radicals.