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Milk Thistle & Type 2 Diabetes: Simple Therapeutic Potential?

Friday September 21, 2018
Milk Thistle & Type 2 Diabetes:  Simple Therapeutic Potential?

A new meta-analysis suggests that a simple herbal supplement may offer extra support to Type 2 diabetics (2).

It is estimated that 3.2 million people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes (1) with numbers expected to reach 5 million by 2025.

Diabetes is a debilitating chronic blood sugar disorder that can occur due to a multitude of risk factors. 90% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes (T2D) which can often be managed by changing lifestyle and dietary habits. In addition to healthy modifications, silymarin, an active compound found in milk thistle, has shown potential benefits in the treatment of T2D (2).

A meta-analysis (compilation of trials) led by A. Hadi et. al at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran, observed beneficial effects of silymarin supplementation on the metabolic status of T2D patients (2). A total of seven trials with a total of 370 participants were included in this analysis, where the dose administered ranged from 200-600mg/day, for a period of 45 days – 1 year. 

After pooling the evidence, it was found that silymarin supplementation significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels and insulin compared to placebo. Furthermore, administration may improve blood lipid biomarkers, as silymarin supplementation also resulted in reduced LDL-cholesterol levels.
It is suggested that silymarin may work to improve metabolic status due to its action as an anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycaemic and anti-oxidative compound. As oxidative stress and chronic inflammation may lead to the pathogenesis of T2D, silymarin may neutralise harmful free radicals and reduce inflammatory compounds that can contribute to the disease.

Although the researchers suggested that further research is necessary to establish consistent analytical methods and the optimal dose, they concluded that silymarin may improve health markers and metabolic status in diabetic patients. Overall, the meta-analysis adds to the weight of evidence that supports the beneficial role of milk thistle supplementation on human health.

1)      Diabetes UK: Facts and Figures
2)      Amir Hadi, Makan Pourmasoumi, Hamed Mohammadi et. al (2018) The effects of silymarin supplementation on metabolic status and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials, Complementary Therapies in Medicine

Author: Salma Dawood is a Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Human Nutrition.

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: Nutrition News and ViewsDiabetes


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