Like the heart, the liver is considered one of the most essential organs of the body that performs over 500 vital functions.
These include removing waste products and foreign substances from the bloodstream, regulating blood sugar levels, and allowing essential nutrients to nourish the blood. It is, therefore, useful to support its health as a precautionary measure for good health including the skin.
Here are some of its most important functions:
- Albumin Production: Albumin is a protein that keeps fluids in the bloodstream from leaking into the surrounding tissue. It also carries hormones, vitamins, and enzymes through the body.
- Bile Production: Bile is a fluid that is critical to the digestion and absorption of fats in the small intestine. It is therefore an important organ for weight management.
- Filters Blood: All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver, which removes toxins, by-products, and other harmful substances.
- Regulates Amino Acids: The production of proteins depends on amino acids. The liver makes sure amino acid levels in the bloodstream remain healthy.
- Regulates Blood Clotting: Blood clotting coagulants are created using vitamin K, which can only be absorbed with the help of bile, a fluid the liver produces.
- Resists Infections: As part of the filtering process, the liver also removes bacteria from the bloodstream.
- Stores Vitamins and Minerals: The liver stores significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as iron and copper.
- Processes Glucose: The liver removes excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and stores it as glycogen. As needed, it can convert glycogen back into glucose.
As you can see, the liver plays a very important role in supporting skin health through the storage and circulation of vital nutrients through the blood. It is responsible for routinely executing hundreds of life-sustaining body functions daily acting as the body’s personal chemical power plant, processing everything that you eat, breathe, and absorb through your skin.
It is therefore important that we support its health, and we can achieve that will the help of Milk Thistle – a medicinal herb that has impressive evidence of its benefit as a liver tonic.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum is one of the oldest known herbs and has been widely used in traditional European medicine for over two thousand years, especially for supporting liver health. It is derived from the milk thistle plant which has been shown in scientific studies to support the improvement of liver function and health.
Milk thistle is also indicated for mild digestive disorders, with some studies showing it to possess hepatoprotective, antioxidant, and choleretic properties. It is rich in antioxidants silymarin and silybin that react with free radicals (e.g. reactive oxygen species) transforming them into more stable and less reactive compounds.
Milk thistle and Skin Health
Research suggests that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potency of the milk thistle seeds and their polyphenols (flavonolignans) may make it a suitable candidate for modulating processes associated with photo-aging.
Over the last 30 years, silymarin, a standardised extract from Silybum marianum seeds, has been studied for its dermatological application, namely for its UVB-protective properties. However, given that most solar UV radiation stems from UVA radiation further studies on milk thistle are warranted. In 2018, researchers from the Czech Republic published their findings in the Archives of Dermatological Research demonstrating that silymarin and silybin may prevent UVA-induced damage to normal human dermal fibroblasts.
Milk thistle’s traditional reputation as a liver tonic is now supported by research showing that its constituents protect liver cells from chemical damage. Liver health is one of the fastest-growing well-being focus areas in Australia.
Research shows the number of Australians facing liver health challenges is projected to increase by 25 percent by 2030 according to medical research conducted by the University of Western Australia with experts now shining the spotlight on evidence-based natural ingredients to help support liver health to help reduce the burden on the economy.
This article is based on referenced studies provided by Dr Felix Zhang, Nutrition Medicine Scientist and Director, Research & Development at BYHEALTH