Inflammation: it is the means by which the body deploys its immune defense. The time it takes for the body to eliminate a pathogen or toxin includes the time it takes for the body to recognize the intruder, construct appropriate antibodies, and then deploy those antibodies.
The average person is so full of toxins and pathogens that the immune system is on constant alert. That means swelling, puss, phlegm, rashes, internal and external irritation, irritability, and all manner of disease.
The effect of inflammation on the body can be understood by considering a condition paramedics refer to as “compartment syndrome.” Compartment syndrome is localized swelling that occurs as the result of a traumatic injury. As EMTs work to stabilize a wound, the body’s response causes intense swelling. This swelling is often so strong and pronounced that it actually crushes the tissues around it. This causes nearby “compartments” of tissue to be damaged as a result. As you can imagine, this can have a domino effect inside the body.
Compartment syndrome only happens as the result of an injury, but it is very damaging. Normal everyday inflammation is much less pronounced, but it is system-wide and it is persistent. Over time, comparatively mild inflammation in the gastrointestinal system, circulatory system, nervous system, and elsewhere compromises the integrity of structures and weakens organs. It keeps us in a constant state of mild systemic injury.
One of the worst results of this is blood vessels, intestines, the blood-brain barrier, and other critical barriers fail to contain what they are meant to contain. And they fail to keep out what they fail to keep out. Even mild chronic inflammation can cause all manner of illness.
This is why inflammation is the cause du jour when it comes to improving health. So, we’re always looking for ways to reduce it. Well, we’ve stumbled on yet another of the many natural treatments for chronic inflammation: milk thistle.
Also known as silymarin marianum: milk thistle is a prickly, purple flowering herb that grows wild in all of the states with mild weather like California and Washington. In these areas, it spreads like wildfires along the highways. In fact, in the areas where it is common- it is generally considered to be a weed.
But milk thistle has been in use as a medicine for thousands of years. It’s native to the Mediterranean, but this resilient, invasive species has now made homes for itself all over the world. That’s good news for us- because of its excellent medicinal qualities.
The plant’s medicinal qualities are believed to be owed to its primary active compound silymarin. And you can take our word for it, there’s nothing sily about it. Silymarin has the ability to protect the liver. It functions as an antioxidant and has a long list of anti-inflammatory properties.
Here are just a few of the proven effects of silymarin;
Reducing Inflammation – We’ve said a lot about inflammation already. Silymarin, you’ll be glad to know, is better at reducing inflammation than pharmaceutical products like piroxicam and meloxicam. This has been measured in patients with knee injuries. But most importantly, milk thistle has no nasty side effects.
Treating Rosacea – This inflammatory skin condition affects millions of people and tends to be chronic. When applied in the form of a cream, silymarin improves skin tone, reduces swelling, and is even an effective treatment for chronic acne.
Hindering Cancer – A number of medical researchers have found that silymarin reduces and treats cancerous tumors growing in the prostate. Other research groups found that an additional compound found in milk thistle, silibinin, inhibits the growth of cancer and reduces its ability to spread.
Treating Hepatitis C – This dreaded disease has been with us for a few decades and still, no effective cure is available. However, silibininand and silymarin have been found to aid in the one effective treatment- liver transplant. This operation has been conducted successfully three times with the aid of these two compounds which protect the liver and boost its function.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – An increasingly common neuropsychiatric, OCD is treated with a wide range of medications and treatments. Many people diagnosed with the disorder cannot tolerate the medications prescribed to them. Considering the fact that these patients often expect to be under treatment for OCD for the rest of their lives, it’s a serious concern. However, the compounds in milk thistle have been found to be as effective or better than common OCD drugs. And, there are no side effects.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a region where this weed grows wild, help yourself. For everyone else, it can be found in health food stores and online quite inexpensively.