St Mary’s thistle: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

• St Mary’s thistle has hepatoprotective activity and has been shown to reduce the hepatotoxic effects of a variety of environmental toxins and medicines, such as paracetamol, erythromycin, carbon tetrachloride and death cap mushrooms.

• It has direct and indirect antioxidant activity, accelerates the regeneration of hepatocytes after liver damage, has significant gastroprotective and nephroprotective activity, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine activity according to in vitro and animal studies.

• Numerous clinical studies have investigated its effects in a variety of liver diseases. However, a recent review concluded that current data are still insufficient to recommend the herb in chronic liver diseases.

• In clinical practice, it is used to treat dyspepsia, toxic liver damage, as supportive therapy in chronic liver diseases and hypercholesterolaemia.

• Preliminary evidence suggests a possible role as adjunctive therapy with cisplatin and as a skin cancer preventative agent when applied topically.

Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions

What will this herb do for me?

St Mary’s thistle may improve digestion, particularly of fatty foods, and afford protection against the toxic effects of a number of drugs and environmental poisons. It is also used as supportive treatment in chronic liver diseases and high cholesterol states.

When will it start to work?

This varies, depending on the indication.

Are there any safety issues?

St Mary’s thistle is considered a very safe and well tolerated herb.