Most people believe that the benefits of milk thistle far outweigh any milk thistle side effects that have been reported. The milk thistle plant has been attributed to helping to prevent and treat problems with the liver, gallbladder and certain toxins due to its high concentration of silymarin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Whether milk thistle is a safe and effective treatment depends on many factors such as health, age and the correct milk thistle dosage.
Some people have reported insomnia among the milk thistle side effects they experience. Insufficient sleep can lead to problems such as fatigue and weakness. Insomnia also has a negative effect on the immune system and can result in sexual dysfunction.
Side effects related to the digestive system have been reported in some people. These problems include stomach upset, diarrhea, bloating, excessive gas and stomach pain. While milk thistle can have a mild laxative side effect, anyone who experiences diarrhea should stop taking it and consult a doctor.
Prescription Drug Interaction
Milk thistle side effects can occur in the liver by people who take certain medications. This is particularly seen in people who take medications that are broken down by certain liver enzymes. These medications can include allergy drugs, some anti-anxiety drugs, blood thinners, cholesterol reducing drugs and certain cancer drugs. Seizure medication, antipsychotic drugs and medication used for general anesthesia can also result in possible milk thistle side effects. People taking any of these types of drugs should consult with their doctor before using milk thistle.
Other Possible Milk Thistle Side Effects
Several side effects of milk thistle include:
-Milk thistle has been reported to cause headaches ranging from mild to severe.
-Loss of appetite with resulting overall weakness.
-Allergic reactions including itching and/or rash after touching the plant as well as swelling of the lips, throat, tongue and face.
Serious Milk Thistle Side Effects
Because milk thistle can be potentially dangerous, a doctor should be consulted before its use. There can be a serious interaction with milk thistle and other herbs, medications or supplements. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take milk thistle due to possible dangers to the infant. Patients with hormone related cancers such as uterine, prostate and breast cancers should also avoid milk thistle altogether.
Milk Thistle Dosage
Milk thistle can be purchased as a liquid extract, herb capsules, and tincture. It can be ingested as a tea or by cooking the greens from the plant or eating them in salads. Either way, people should be cautious not to ingest too much of it. Since there have been no studies about the effects of milk thistle on children so it is recommended that they not be given milk thistle unless specifically ordered by a doctor. For adults, most supplements of silymarin or milk thistle will provide the recommended dosage on the package, usually 280 to 450 mg a day in divided doses. However, each product is different so the dosage recommendations should be checked carefully before taking.