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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names:

Generic Name: milk thistle (Pronunciation: MILK THIH sull)

What is milk thistle ()?

The use of milk thistle in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Milk thistle is also known as holy thistle, lady's thistle, Mary thistle, Marian thistle, St. Mary thistle, silybum, and Silybum marianum.

Milk thistle has been used for stomach and appetite complaints, liver problems, gallbladder problems, and as an antidote to death cap (Amanita) mushroom poisoning.

Milk thistle has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of milk thistle may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Milk thistle may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of milk thistle ()?

Although rare, allergic reactions to milk thistle have been reported. Stop taking milk thistle and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects are also uncommon and reports have included mild stomach upset.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about milk thistle ()?

Milk thistle has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of milk thistle may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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