Modern medicine has saved countless pet lives. Prescription medication has the power to cure or slow the progression of life-threatening illnesses. However, every medication comes with a list of potential side effects. The medicine that’s saving your pet’s life may also cause hidden damage to vital organs.
Milk thistle can help. This powerful herb has been repeatedly shown to eliminate toxins present in prescription medication. A milk thistle supplement can protect a pet’s liver and kidneys as well as minimize oxidative stress. If your pet is taking medication, milk thistle could be what they’re missing!
What is milk thistle?
Milk thistle is an herb that’s been used in alternative medicine for thousands of years. Milk thistle’s Latin name is Silybum marianum, but the herb is more often referred to as silymarin because that’s the main active ingredient. Native to the Mediterranean and North Africa, milk thistle’s popularity eventually made it a commonly grown plant in North America.
The plant is easily identifiable due to its spiky, bright purple flower. These flowers are what make milk thistle very beautiful, but the herb’s nutritional benefits are held in the seeds. Milk thistle seeds hold a high concentration of silymarin, which has been used to treat cancer and liver diseases in both humans and animals.
Herbalists create milk thistle supplements by extracting silymarin from the herb’s seeds. They’re usually sold in tincture form and come with a tiny dropper. Pets only need a few drops per day, but owners should consult a veterinarian for exact doses. The amount of milk thistle you give a pet will depend on their health condition and reason for using it.
In addition to dosage requirements, pet parents should ask their vet for brand recommendations. Supplements are usually unregulated and don’t require FDA approval. Some ingredient labels might claim to have more silymarin than what’s actually present in the supplement. Double checking with a vet will ensure you buy from the brand that’s best for your pet.
Benefits of milk thistle with prescription drugs
Besides treating cancer and liver diseases, milk thistle has been shown to minimize the negative side effects of conventional medication. Below are the main benefits of supplementing prescription drugs with milk thistle in pets.
- Milk thistle gets rid of free radicals: Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause harm to normal body cells. These molecules can be created by exposure to chemicals found in pollution, processed foods, pet toys and, of course, medications. Free radicals create oxidative stress, which prevents cells from working properly. Milk thistle is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, protecting the body from harm.
- Milk thistle detoxes the liver: The liver breaks down nutrients so they’re more easily absorbed into your pet’s body. This vital organ is also responsible for metabolizing medication. All the toxins present in medication pass through the liver, potentially damaging it without protection. Milk thistle prevents drug toxins from causing irreversible damage to your pet’s liver by detoxing the organ.
- Milk thistle promotes kidney function: The kidneys are two more important organs that constantly deal with toxins. In fact, the kidneys’ main role is to flush toxins out of your pet’s body. While toxin removal is a normal part of the kidneys’ job, too many toxins can overwhelm the organs and prevent them from getting rid of them fast enough. Prescription medications put stress on the kidneys by overloading them with toxins. Milk thistle allows toxins to filter through the kidneys without harming the organs.
- Milk thistle stimulates bile flow: The gallbladder plays a vital role in digesting food and medication. It’s located in the liver, which produces bile and stores the liquid in the gallbladder. Muscles contract around the gallbladder to release bile into the digestive system. Milk thistle stimulates these muscles, which in turn aids in digestion. Bile needs to exit the gallbladder at a normal rate to help the liver metabolize medication.
- Milk thistle enhances chemotherapy: Milk thistle excels at protecting vital organs from the side effects of medication. The herb guards against harmful chemicals, but it also helps medication serve its intended purpose even better. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, can increase the rate at which chemotherapy drugs neutralize cancer cells. Since milk thistle is an antioxidant, it can preserve normal cells during the chemotherapy process and help them regenerate after treatment.
Milk thistle is healthy for all pets, not just the ones taking prescription medication. The herb detoxes organs, supports proper organ functioning and could prevent the need for medication in the first place! Remember that milk thistle is most effective when taken in the right doses. A vet can instruct you on how much and how frequently to administer milk thistle supplements to your pet.