Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a medicinal plant that is thought to have beneficial effects on liver health and diabetes. While the entire plant is edible, the medicinal benefits are highest when using the seeds. One way to use the seeds is to prepare a milk thistle seed tea recipe. If you do have a medical condition, be sure to consult your doctor before adding this tea to your diet.
Milk Thistle Tea Benefits
Milk thistle has many purported benefits, but little scientific research to back up the claims. The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin and the highest concentration of this compound is found in the seeds of the plant. Milk thistle is most commonly believed to improve liver health. It has been used to treat viral hepatitis, cirrhosis and mushroom poisoning. Whether milk thistle tea is good for your liver is up for debate. Research has shown mixed results, although some studies have reported that patients with hepatitis had fewer symptoms of the disease even though the milk thistle did not seem to decrease the amount of virus in the system.
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Some studies have also shown benefits for patients with diabetes, resulting in decreased fasting blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol. However, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of milk thistle.
Milk Thistle Tea Recipe
Before using milk thistle seeds, you need to grind them into a powder. You can use a coffee grinder for this, or if you prefer, you can crush the seeds using a mortar and pestle. You can find a variety of recipes online or get one from your naturopathic doctor. In general, use between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of ground seeds per cup of tea. Place the seeds in a tea ball and steep it in hot water for about five minutes.
Stir the tea and drink it as is or add additional ingredients. You may like to sweeten your tea with honey or another sweetener. Lemon can add a pleasing flavor and you can also add other herbs to the tea as desired.
There are also other ways to add ground milk thistle seeds to your diet. For example, add them to smoothies or mix them in with oatmeal or porridge.
Milk Thistle Considerations
Can you drink milk thistle tea every day? Milk thistle is generally safe, but there are some side effects and interactions you should be aware of. Milk thistle can cause a serious allergic reaction in some individuals. Other potential side effects include gastrointestinal upset, headache and itching.
In addition, some studies have shown that milk thistle can affect blood sugar. If you have diabetes or are taking medication that affects your blood sugar, be sure to consult your doctor before drinking this tea or taking a milk thistle supplement. It is unknown whether milk thistle is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. This herb may also affect estrogen levels, so avoid consuming it if you have a condition such as breast, uterine or ovarian cancer.
You can purchase milk thistle supplements, seeds and teas or you can grow milk thistle yourself and harvest the seeds. Be aware that milk thistle is classified as an invasive weed in many locations. In addition, it is toxic to livestock, so be sure to control the spread of milk thistle if you grow it yourself.
- Washington State University Clark County Extension: Milk Thistle
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Milk Thistle
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Milk Thistle
- Mayo Clinic: Milk Thistle
- Healing Roots Natural Medicine: Fall Detox: Milk Thistle
- Family Cuisine: How To Make Milk Thistle Tea From Seeds