It can also be found in warm dry regions of central Europe as well as south America and south Australia.
Milk thistle contains several groups of substances:
• Flavonolignans: silymarin, an isomer mixture of the flavonolignans silybin, silychristin and silydianin, and other flavonolignans like isosilybin, isosilichristin, dehydrosilibin and dehydrosilichristin.
• Flavonoids: apigenin, eriodictyol, chrysoeriol, 5,7-dihydroxychromone, dihydrokaempferol, isofraxidin, naringenin, quercetin and taxifolin. • Neolignan: dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol.
• Aliphatic oil: a high proportion of linoleic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid as well as some other fatty acids together with tocopherol and sterols such as campesterol, cholesterol, b-sitosterol and stigmasterol.
The extract of milk thistle is used in the treatment of toxic liver damage and is also recommended for supportive treatment of chronic inflammatory liver diseases and cirrhosis.
The therapeutic effect is based on the stimulation of RNA polymerase I in liver cells, the stabilization of liver cell membranes and its antioxydative properties. Milk thistle possesses the ability to regenerate liver cells that have been injured.