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You may have seen or even heard someone at Two Bostons talk about Milk Thistle, you may have wondered what it is, or thought that sounds like a weird plant or something (I know that is what I thought the first time I heard it).  Let me know tell you about it and why your dog might be a good candidate to try it out today!

Milk thistle is a plant native to the Mediterranean.  It has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy.  Its first documented use ithn the first century was as a remedy for poisonous snake bites.  Now, it is commonly used as an ailment for liver, kidney and gallbladder problems.  The seeds in milk thistle contain a flavonoid called silymarin, which protects the liver from toxins.  It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  This may help the liver repair itself by stimulating the production of new liver cells.  It can also block the entry of toxins into the liver and remove them at cellular level, resulting in regeneration of liver cells and improved liver function.

Here are a few ways in which milk thistle works:

  • Strengthens the membranes of liver cells to prevent damage from toxins
  • Enhances protein synthesis by increasing RNA activity, and stops absorption of toxins in the liver
  • Reduces fibriotic activity
  • Reduces the action of liver enzymes responsible for causing inflammation of the liver

Here are a couple of circumstances that you might use Milk Thistle.

#1.  Maybe your dog is on Phenobarbital or another medicine to help control seizures caused by canine epilepsy.  One side effect of Phenobarbital is possible liver damage.  The liver’s function is to filter all absorbed toxins introduced to the body before allowing it to pass through the blood stream.  Drugs such as Phenobarbital, when processed through the liver, can cause inflammation and scarring of liver tissue.  Milk thistle should be administered to every dog taking liver taxing medications, and especially if the liver is damaged or diseased.

102107675-dog-park-bullies-632x475#2.  Do you have a young dog that frequents the local dog parks? For dogs that spend a lot of time at the parks, you probably use something more than a topical flea and tick medication. Over-the-counter flea and tick killing treatments, such as Frontline and K9 Advantix are pesticides.  In order to kill and prevent fleas and ticks, the chemicals must enter the blood stream through the liver. Permethrin; that is used in K9 Advantix for example; can slow down the nervous system by binding to sodium channels. That is where milk thistle comes in.  This powder helps flush the chemicals from the liver and rebuilds those cells that may have been damaged by the pesticide.  We would heavily suggest this product for every dog on a medicated flea and tick preventative.

Milk Thistle has digestive benefits as well!  It prepares the digestive tract to start producing a hormone called gastrin.  Gastrin starts the production of gastric acids and bile, which aid in digestion and the breaking down of fats in the small intestine.  Milk thistle may have a mild laxative quality to it.  This helps to lubricate the stools, and prevent both constipation and diarrhea.

We  have Herbsmith’s Milk Thistle at all stores.  We carry the powder form in a 75 gram bottle, but we can order larger bottles upon request.  Please come in and talk to us about any other questions or concerns you may have.

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