Milk thistle seeds are used more often for liver disorders, including liver damage caused by chemicals, Amanita phalloides mushroom poisoning, jaundice, chronic inflammatory liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver and chronic hepatitis.
Milk thistle is also used for loss of appetite, heartburn (dyspepsia) and gallbladder disorders.
The seeds are roasted for use as a coffee substitute.
Some research shows that people who take a milk thistle extract in combination with a conventional antihistamine have reduced symptoms compared to people who just use an antihistamine.
Some research shows that taking silymarin, a chemical found in milk thistle seeds, along with conventional treatment can decrease blood sugar, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides in people with diabetes.
Recent laboratory studies suggest that silymarin and other active substances in milk thistle seeds may act against cancer. These compounds seem to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, shorten their lifespan, and reduce blood supply to tumors.