Milk thistle for horses is a large annual or biennial herb with large stripy and spiny leaves and a big, attractive flower. The ripe fruit (seeds) are the part most often used therapeutically. The plant is also called Marian thistle and Mary’s thistle. It grows throughout many areas in Europe, in the USA, South America and Australia.
The seeds (the fruit) contain flavolignan compounds called silymarin, antioxidant flavonoids, lipids, sterols and other compounds including mucilages and sugars. The silymarin content is around 1.5-3% of the seeds, and it’s this compound that is purported to be what supports liver function. It’s a powerful antioxidant and helps to regenerate liver cells.
Traditionally, milk thistle is used to support organ function including that of the liver and the spleen. It has also been used during lactation, and for gastrointestinal support. It’s most popular use nowadays is for its liver-supporting properties. It also increases bile production from the liver. It is a useful spring tonic which helps strengthen the liver and it promotes the natural regeneration of liver cells after disruption or damage.
Extra liver support is recommended after viruses, long term medication, infection, poisoning, and worm burdens. The liver has a wide variety of important functions in the body, including detoxifying and cleansing the blood of waste. If liver function is compromised, the skin can be affected and supporting liver function in these cases will help support skin health.
The leaf has been used for organ support, but it does not contain the active compound silymarin.
A tincture has the benefit of being a standardised extract of a herb, and tinctures are useful to extract active components of tough plant parts like roots, resins and seeds. Tinctures are more readily available in the gut so will work faster than the whole herb.
Pegasus Sily-Max® milk thistle tincture is ideal for situations where liver support is required urgently.
- Essential oils
- Linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid)
- Silymarin; a complex made up of flavolignans including silibinin, silichristin and silidianin
- Sterols, mucilages, sugars and amines
- Supports organ function, especially that of the liver and spleen
- Supports the natural regenerative processes of the liver cells
- For horses with raised liver enzymes or other liver challenge
- Use as a spring tonic (feed for at least 4 weeks)
- Ideal for horses after an inappropriate diet e.g. obese horses coming off pasture and going on a low-energy diet
- Horses with liver-dysfunction associated skin challenges
ML PER DAY
10 - 20
5 - 10
1 litre fed at 10ml per day will last 100 days
Levels may be adjusted to suit the individual, and are not necessarily related to body weight. It is recommended to feed the higher rate for times of peak requirement.
For best results, split between 2 feeds approximately 12 hours apart
Aqua, Ethanol, Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum)
Crude ash <0.1%
Crude ﬁbre <0.1%
Crude oils and fats <0.1%
Crude protein <0.1%
A complementary feed material for horses. Store in a cool, dry place. Replace cap securely to avoid deterioration of contents. Keep out of reach of children
Milk thistle is a large spiny-leaved thistle which is native to the Mediterranean regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Over the years it has spread to other parts of the globe including the USA, South America and Australia. Its name comes from the milky white sap which its leaves contain, although it is also called Marian thistle, Mary’s thistle and Lady’s thistle. Milk thistle seeds (the fruit) have been used for around 2,000 years to support healthy liver function. They are also used for spleen, kidney and pancreas support, gastrointestinal support, and generally as a spring tonic.
The chemistry of milk thistle seeds is well documented, and they contain several active ingredients. The main one, which has good evidence, is the silymarin complex which includes a variety of flavonoids including three flavolignans: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. The seeds also contain other antioxidant flavonoids, lipids, sterols, mucilages and sugars.
Silymarin, which makes up about 1.5-3% of the seeds, is the compound thought to support liver function and liver cleanse for horses. Silibinin is the main component of silymarin, and is the most active of the three. It supports the liver (is hepatoprotective) by stabilising cell membranes and helping to stimulate cell regeneration.
The liver is the body’s central processing organ, which plays a crucial role in the conversion of nutrients for use in the body, the cleaning up of waste products and the expulsion of toxins, amongst other things. All the blood from the digestive tract passes into the liver so that absorbed nutrients can be metabolised. Detoxification occurs so that harmful compounds cannot reach the rest of the body. A variety of nutrients including glucose, vitamins and minerals are stored for later use, and proteins are created. A healthy, fully functioning liver is key to the body being able to cope with toxins effectively, and liver dysfunction has a major effect on all body systems and therefore overall health.
The antioxidant properties of silymarin have been demonstrated in research and are thought to contribute to the liver-supporting properties of the seeds. Silymarin has been shown to increase total glutathione (an important antioxidant) in the liver, intestine and stomach. It has also been shown to support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes, by inhibiting over-reaction.
Silymarin stimulates bile production, making milk thistle useful for gastro-intestinal support. It is used in the form of an infusion in Germany to support digestive health. There is good evidence for the safety of milk thistle horse supplement seeds when used as recommended.