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milk thistle

milk thistle

Pronunciation: MILK THIH sull

What is the most important information I should know about milk thistle?

Milk thistle has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of milk thistle may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

What is milk thistle?

The use of milk thistle in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Milk thistle is also known as holy thistle, lady's thistle, Mary thistle, Marian thistle, St. Mary thistle, silybum, and Silybum marianum.

Milk thistle has been used for stomach and appetite complaints, liver problems, gallbladder problems, and as an antidote to death cap (Amanita) mushroom poisoning.

Milk thistle has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of milk thistle may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Milk thistle may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.

Who should not take milk thistle?

Milk thistle may inhibit the metabolism of certain drugs. Before taking milk thistle, ask your doctor if any drugs you are taking are metabolized by a liver enzyme called CYP3A4. You may not be able to take milk thistle, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring while you are taking it.

Before taking milk thistle, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have allergies (especially to plants), have any medical conditions, or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements. Milk thistle may not be recommended in some situations.

Multum nopreg

Do not take milk thistle without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. It is not known whether milk thistle will harm an unborn baby.

Multum nobrfeed

Do not take milk thistle without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. It is also not known whether milk thistle will harm a nursing infant.

There is no information available regarding the use of milk thistle by children. Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without first talking to the child's doctor.

How should I take milk thistle?

The use of milk thistle in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

If you choose to take milk thistle, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Standardized extracts, tinctures, and solid formulations of herbal/health supplements may provide a more reliable dose of the product.

Multum water

Take the pill forms of milk thistle with a full glass of water.

To ensure the correct dose, measure the liquid forms of milk thistle with a dropper or a dose-measuring spoon or cup.

Some forms of milk thistle can be brewed to form a tea for drinking.

Multum donot

Do not use different formulations (e.g., tablets, liquids, teas, and others) of milk thistle at the same time, unless specifically directed to do so by a health care professional. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose of milk thistle.

Store milk thistle as directed on the package. In general, milk thistle should be protected from light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

No information is available regarding a missed dose of milk thistle. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you require further information.

What happens if I overdose?

Multum emt

Seek emergency medical attention.

Symptoms of a milk thistle overdose are not known.

What should I avoid while taking milk thistle?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while taking milk thistle, unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.

What are the possible side effects of milk thistle?

Multum emt

Although rare, allergic reactions to milk thistle have been reported. Stop taking milk thistle and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects are also uncommon and reports have included mild stomach upset.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect milk thistle?

Milk thistle may inhibit the metabolism of certain drugs. Before taking milk thistle, ask your doctor if any drugs you are taking are metabolized by a liver enzyme called CYP3A4. You may not be able to take milk thistle, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring while you are taking it.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional before taking milk thistle if you are taking any other medicines or supplements.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider may have more information about milk thistle.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2013 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.05. Revision date: 12/15/2010.

Your use of the content provided in this service indicates that you have read, understood and agree to the End-User License Agreement, which can be accessed by clicking on this link.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Last modified on: 2 April 2014


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