Milk thistle, scientifically referred to as Silybummarianum, is a plant that originates from the Mediterranean area, before it gradually spread across the globe. The milk thistle is a purple, spiky plant that has been used for many years as a home remedy for liver disorders, gallbladder, kidneys, hepatitis, and cirrhosis among others. This is primarily because it has the potential to regenerate your liver cells, boost your immune system, and flush of toxins from your body. In addition, there are many unverified benefits about the power of milk thistle, with every person seemingly having his/her own version of the benefits. However, one question stands out, do milk thistle’s have the power to fix acne or is it just an overrated plant?
Acne (Acne Vulgaris) is the most prevalent skin condition all over the world. Many adolescents and even adults spend sleepless nights pondering how to get rid of their acne. First, a quick lesson on what acne really is. This skin condition is primarily due to the clogging of the hair follicles (1). This comes about when there is an overproduction of sebum (an oily substance that moisturizes the skin's top layer and the hairs) by the sebaceous glands. The sebum then combines with the dead skin cells, and the acne’s bacteria causes clogging of the pores. Its symptoms may be in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, papules, and nodules (1). Unsurprisingly, the market is overflowing with various products dubbed as the cure to acne, but sadly, they don’t always help due to their usage of chemicals that do the skin more harm than good. Is it all doomed then? Will you always have acne? The answer is a big NO, there exists numerous natural herbal treatment of acne that will not have some negative side effects on your skin—and Milk Thistle is one of them.
What are the Primary Active Compounds in Milk Thistle?
Silymarin and Silibinin are the two active milk thistle medicinal compounds. However, it is Silymarin that does most of the magic on the skin. This is because it has great antioxidant properties that may help get rid of acne by fighting the free radicals that contribute to acne formation (2). The oral antioxidant such as milk thistle extracts are also highly absorbable into the system and tackles acne impeccably.
Milk Thistle and Glutathione Production Enhancement
Glutathione are among the vital antioxidants that the body manufactures. It is responsible for safeguarding most cellular such as the skin against most kinds of attacks. The attacks may be from heavy metals, lipid peroxides, and free radicals (all caused by reactive oxygen). Most patients suffering from acne usually have lower levels of glutathione than the average required. It is worth noting that glutathione is one of the most important detoxifying agents in the body. When it comes to acne, it will detoxify all skin contaminants thereby keeping the skin free from dirt that may lead to the clogging of the follicles.
How does glutathione detoxify?
Glutathione improves the body's detoxification systems, and therefore may be used to eradicate acne causing chemicals (3). For instance, heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury can cause acne. Hence the need for them to be flushed or put in a state that is not reactive with the cells. Mercury brings about massive inflammation, while arsenic increases dead skin cell turn over and keratin resulting in the clogged follicles, which ultimately leads to acne. Glutathione transfers molecules to these components, therefore, preventing them from reacting with the skin cells. It is imperative that you have adequate glutathione otherwise these metals will continue to cause acne breakouts over and over again. Milk thistle plays the role of increasing the glutathione levels, thereby keeping acne causing metals and chemical contaminants at bay.
Milk Thistle and Superoxide Dismutase Production Enhancement
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is another antioxidant that is vital in tackling acne. Its main function in the body is to deactivate the highly reactive and dangerous free radicals called the superoxides which are a nightmare to the skin. They are capable of inflaming your pimples, increasing clogging of pores and destabilizing skin cells leading to acne development. Superoxide dismutase comes in and does the opposite, it to break down the superoxides to ordinary, hydrogen peroxide and oxygen peroxides that the body can adequately deal with. This means that if the levels of SOD are suppressed, acne breakouts are bound to occur, as seen in many acne patients cases. The importance of SOD as an antioxidant implies that it cannot be overlooked, and that is where milk thistle comes in. It boosts your red blood cells levels of SOD thereby helping in the fight against acne (4).
Also, by increasing bile production, the byproducts of the testosterone hormone could be flushed away rapidly. For those of you who may not know, testosterone is the leading hormone causing acne among the teens as it results in the overproduction of sebum. Besides, when its byproducts reach the skin, they promote the development of acne as they tend to clog up the pores. It is therefore important to ensure that testosterone and other hormonal byproducts are flushed away to guarantee the skin stays clear.
Milk Thistle and Cellular Inflammation Suppression
The anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle draw a lot of plaudits from dermatologists. Its inflammatory action soothes skin irritation and calms redness associated with acne breakouts (5). It also has demulcent properties that may improve the texture of the skin to make it smooth and supple. This means that it will help relieve you of those ugly daunting scars associated with acne breakouts.
There you have it, the probable benefits of milk thistle in tackling acne. Milk thistle may be used to reduce acne in a unique way by boosting the body's natural mechanisms such as glutathione and DOD. Also, it has great anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in maintaining skin glow. If you want smooth, acne-free, and blemish free skin, you should definitely consider milk thistle as one of the helpful products.