May 7, 2014 at 3:03 pm #16334
since you’re an amateur herbalist, thought I’d run this by you:
I just bought the milk thistle- whole seed (mountain rose herbs- they’re usually pretty good, so I assume it is ok quality). I ground it up, and for the last 5 days I’ve taken about 1/2 tsp per day with food. No major reactions- but I did get a couple acne cysts on my forehead. Although I do suffer from acne, it’s been better lately and I never get cysts on my forehead. So I’m thinking the milk thistle is responsible.
Any idea if this reaction indicates I have an intolerance to the milk thistle? Or does it just mean it is working like it should to help my liver?
I know I’m only 5 days in, but I don’t want to keep taking it if it’s just adding to my inflammation if I’m intolerant/allergic to it. I just had my dose today and about 30 mins later the cysts started to itch a bit. Could be random or in my head tho…
As far as I know, I don’t have a ragweed allergy- which I know can be related to milk thistle allergy.May 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm #16336
I’ve heard anecdotal reports both ways with milk thistle seed and acne. I don’t think anyone knows how it works in regard to acne. In some cases when it helps then people like to attribute it to supporting the liver. In cases where it hurts then people also like to attribute it to supporting the liver, albeit “too quickly”. But in neither case is there much evidence to support the claims. Really, no one knows how milk thistle seed might be affecting acne.
Regarding allergies, I haven’t personally heard any reports of milk thistle seed allergies. But, as you indicate, there are cautions of allergic reactions possible in some conservative sites. But, at the same time, the studies demonstrate that milk thistle seed can be effective in resolving seasonal allergy symptoms.
All the studies that I know of show that milk thistle seed is anti-inflammatory. So it seems unlikely (though certainly not impossible) that milk thistle seed would cause inflammation. The seeds do contain small amounts of polyunsaturated fat and probably, due to being seeds, they are likely to contain some anti-nutrients. But since the amount used is so small, I cannot imagine that these things would cause any problems whatsoever except in extreme cases such as if one is otherwise starving.
With all that said, everyone responds to things differently. So it is possible that you are allergic to milk thistle seeds. Then again, it could be entirely coincidental that you are experiencing these symptoms. Or, it could be that, as some people suggest, the liver support may temporarily adjust conditions that would increase acne. Or, of course, it could be something else entirely.
Without knowing you, why you are taking milk thistle seed, what you eat or don’t eat, what other symptoms you have, lifestyle factors, etc., it is impossible to speculate too much. I do wonder what your motivation is for using milk thistle seed. If you are attempting to support liver health, then normally my first suggestions would be to eat enough food, going easy on polyunsaturated fat, eating sufficient carbohydrates, and ensuring that you are eating sufficient quality protein with an emphasis on glycine (as in gelatin). Also, if you tolerate them well then oranges (as in orange juice) and potatoes provide some nutrients that are good for liver health – particularly glucaric acid. All of which, of course, would be in the context of an *enjoyable* and *delicious* diet that is satisfying. Oh, and getting sufficient rest is super important.
The thing is that the liver is particularly good at regeneration. So as long as you eat enough and rest enough then it will be fine in most cases. Milk thistle seed is an excellent herb in most cases, but only if you are supporting liver health in basic ways.
You might want to just reduce the dose by half or even to 1/4 that, and see if that makes any difference. Or, just lay off entirely for a week or two and see if that changes anything.May 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm #16338
Thanks for the speedy response! I’ve been doing a lot of those things to support my liver- I’ve Ray Peated for a long time (not had a ton of forward movement though- but eating for heat has finally started things moving a bit). In the last year or so I’m much less dogmatic about the Peat specifics and instead I’ve been following Matt’s approach more just to get enough food in me. But I still go low on PUFA, drink OJ, aim for 100g of protein, etc.
The only thing I’ve been low on lately is broth. I used to drink a ton, but cut back. And I have intolerant type reactions to gelatin.
Despite all this, I still have pains around liver/gallbladder area. Had an ultrasound and there’s nothing there, but the pains persist. (Seems associated with other pains I get in my belly and ovaries too… T3 has helped, but Dr took me off of it. Also could be estrogen related).
In any event, I thought the milk thistle might support my liver and lessen the pains. Also thought the milk thistle would help my liver get rid of estrogen.
Perhaps I’ll try it a little longer and see if the acne persists, and if so, possibly lower the dose. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who has weird reactions to certain supplements, and I can never figure out how to interpret the reactions.
Thanks again for your thoughts!May 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm #16339
I used to think that I was the only one who had weird reactions to things! Then, after talking to enough people, I realized that there is no *standard* reaction. The reactions are so highly personal. There is, perhaps, a normal range, but the exceptions and outliers are pretty common. That’s why I like Matt’s advice – it’s very inclusive.
If you figure anything out or learn more then please post. I’d be interested.May 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm #16341TinaTParticipant
This is an interesting write-up of milk thistle and acne:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/532506-is-milk-thistle-200-mg-good-for-acne/May 18, 2014 at 7:32 pm #16451
Just an update to my milk thistle experiment in case j-lo or Tina or anyone else is interested. Actually, no major revelations, but I’ll post anyway.
So I was on 1/2 tsp of the milk thistle for just over 2 weeks. I was going to try and go for 4 weeks, but my acne is getting out of control, so I’m stopping. A couple random internet sites said not to use it for more than 2 weeks anyway (of course, there were no scientific studies, etc, cited on those pages, so I don’t know where they came up with 2 weeks).
After those first few cysts, my skin was actually mostly normal for several days. Then around day 12 or 13 of taking the milk thistle, I started to get a couple bad cysts. Also, I sometimes get a reaction on my skin– not exactly acne, not exactly a rash, but something in between. I started to get that again too.
I think part of the reason I started to break out is because where I’m at in my cycle (estrogen higher right now, progesterone hasn’t started to rise yet). But the acne seems a bit worse than at this same time in my last couple cycles… so maybe the milk thistle is having an estrogenic effect and it isn’t providing enough support to my liver to clear out estrogen.
Or maybe my body just doesn’t like milk thistle and it’s more of an allergy/intolerance. Who knows?
Interestingly, the pains around my liver are better the last couple weeks… but they usually get worse sometime the next week in my cycle, so we’ll see how that goes.
I guess my n=1 experiment didn’t yield any major revelations. But right now I think the milk thistle might be adding to my estrogenic load. I’d love to believe it was just a “detox reaction,” but I’m not really sure those actually exist.
=)May 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm #16454
Thanks for the update.
I’m not convinced detox reactions exist either. :)May 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm #16461TinaTParticipant
Thanks for sharing your experience, AnnaB.
I was hoping it would help, so I’m a little bummed. :\
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.