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History and Origin

Silymarin is derived from the seeds of the milk thistle plant, Silybum marianum. It belongs to the aster family which also includes daisies and artichokes.1 It has been used since the 4th century B.C. with the belief that it helps to treat disorders of the liver, spleen and gall bladder.1 It is widely used medicinally in Europe and Asia as a treatment for liver disorders including alcoholic liver diseases.2

Components, Activities and Applications

Silymarin is a polyphenolic flavonoid compound whose main constituent by volume is silybin. Silybin is also considered to be the most biologically active of silymarin’s components with antioxidant and soothing activity.1

Clinical Studies

At present, there are no studies of the topical use of silymarin in the medical literature, although at least one cosmeceutical product contains silymarin.


  1. Pinnell SR. Cutaneous photodamage, oxidative stress, and topical antioxidant protection.
    J Am Acad Dermatol 2003;48: 1-19.
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