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This is the third in a series on Herbs for Mama. I’ve also covered Red Raspberry Leaf and Lady’s Mantle.

When I first read about milk thistle, I couldn’t believe that I had gone so long without it. Learning about it as a pregnant woman made me even more excited to get some and put its many healing benefits to work. Milk thistle is a useful natural home remedy for morning sickness, increasing milk supply and boosting liver function.

Photo Credit: The Ken Cook

Milk thistle’s active component is a flavanoid called silymarin that protects and repairs damaged liver cells. It is also anti-inflammatory and a strong antioxidant.

Increase milk supply

One might think that the name would imply that the lactation benefits of this herb have been known for a long time. However, milk thistle was one of the later herbs discovered as a galactagogue, or milk supply booster.

Mood stabilizer

Milk thistle is doubly effective postpartum in that it helps to keep emotions on an even keel and even lift depression. Susun Weed stated that it will even help those with suicidal feelings, making it a very important herb to add to the usual red raspberry leaf tea to help fend off postpartum depression.

Preventing poisoning

Milk thistle has long been used to prevent poisoning, particularly in cases of ingestion of poisonous mushrooms. Its liver supporting properties increase the natural detoxification so well that it is also beneficial to those with liver-bashing diseases like hepatitis or those who have been exposed to liver-damaging harsh chemicals.

Morning sickness

Many ailments can be cause by a sluggish liver and nausea is one of them, particularly morning sickness for pregnant women. Milk thistle supports and rejuvenates the liver, making it work more effectively at ridding the body of toxins that may cause sickness.

How to use

Milk thistle can be taken as a tincture, extract or capsule. You can buy and grind your own milk thistle for encapsulating or purchase them ready-made. Either way, I highly suggest getting your herbs from a trusted herb store like Mountain Rose Herbs.

Precautions

There are no known adverse effects for milk thistle, making it safe to consume during pregnancy and while nursing*.

*As always, check with a care provider with extensive knowledge in herbs to make sure it’s good for your situation.