Liver Support: Milk Thistle

Product Rating: 
liver support
SKU: 4134

Applications for Health Improvement

  • Supports healthy liver function
  • Supports cytokine balance in the immune response
  • Supports glutathione production
  • May protect liver tissue

60 Vegetarian Capsules

The liver is the body’s major metabolic organ. It processes, packages, stores, and ships out carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and micronutrients. It is responsible for the breakdown and elimination of alcohol, toxins, hormones, and medications, as well as for the synthesis of vital proteins, such as albumin, prealbumin, and clotting factors. The health of our entire body depends on a healthy, functioning liver. Research suggests that providing targeted nutrition supplementation may help support liver function and health [1]. This formula contains the amino acid N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), a key component of glutathione—a tripeptide that plays a significant role in detoxification and antioxidant support and a combination of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), silymarin from milk thistle and selenium for support of antioxidant activity, regeneration of other antioxidants and promotion of a healthy immune function.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): An acetylated derivative of the sulfur containing amino acid L-cysteine, NAC promotes the synthesis of glutathione. Glutathione also supports a healthy defense against liver toxic environmental pollutants, gamma-radiation, and other potential toxins [1,2].

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA): May also be referred to as thioctic acid. ALA is both water- and fat-soluble. It supports glutathione, helps regenerate antioxidant vitamins C and E, helps maintain the ratio of reduced to oxidized CoQ10 in the mitochondria, and helps support healthy levels of nitric oxide in the liver and kidney [3].

Milk Thistle Seed Extract: Silymarin, the active component in milk thistle, has a history of use in promoting liver health. It supports antioxidant activity, neutralizes toxins, and may also protect hepatocytes’ genetic material. Like alpha-lipoic acid, silymarin supports production of cellular glutathione. Its actions in the liver include maintaining normal levels of fat peroxidation and fibrous tissue formation; supporting a healthy immune response and the natural response to inflammation. It also promotes protein synthesis and normal regeneration of liver tissue [4]. A randomized placebo-controlled study of 103 individuals suggested that silymarin yielded statistically positive results and was well tolerated [5].

Selenium (as selenomethionine): An important coenzyme for the glutathione peroxidase detoxification system, selenium also appears to support the endogenous antioxidant defenses of liver cells by upregulating their manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) expression. At the same time, selenium appears to support healthy cytokine balance by affecting interleukin-6 (IL-6) transcription in Kupffer cells (liver-based macrophages) [6]. Kupffer cells play a crucial role in maintaining normal structure and function in the liver. Supporting their function and the body’s normal inflammatory response in turn supports liver health overall [7].

Upon studying targeted nutrition support for liver health, physician and researcher Dr. Burton M. Berkson chose to combine alpha-lipoic acid, silymarin, and selenium to obtain a balanced and low-cost approach to liver support [8].


  1. Krinsky DL, LaValle JB, Hawkins EB, et al. Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide. 2nd ed. Hudson (OH): Lexi-Comp; 2003.
  2. Hu C, Jiang L, Geng C, et al. Possible involvement of oxidative stress in trichloroethylene-induced genotoxicity in human HepG2 cells. Mutat Res. 2008 Jan 18. [PMID: 18289923]
  3. Abdel-Zaher AO, Abdel-Hady RH, Mahmoud MM, et al. The potential protective role of alpha-lipoic acid against acetaminophen-induced hepatic and renal damage. Toxicology. 2008 Jan 20;243(3):261-70. [PMID: 18068886]
  4. Pradhan SC, Girish C. Hepatoprotective herbal drug, silymarin from experimental pharmacology to clinical medicine. Indian J Med Res. 2006 Nov;124(5):491- 504. [PMID: 17213517]
  5. El-Kamary SS, Shardell MD, Abdel-Hamid M, et al. A randomized controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of silymarin on symptoms, signs and biomarkers of acute hepatitis. Phytomedicine. 2009 May;16(5):391-400. [PMID: 19303273]
  6. Shilo S, Pardo M, Aharoni-Simon M, et al. Selenium supplementation increases liver MnSOD expression: molecular mechanism for hepato-protection. J Inorg Biochem. 2008 Jan;102(1):110-8. [PMID: 17804075]
  7. Roberts RA, Ganey PE, Ju C, et al. Role of the Kupffer cell in mediating hepatic toxicity and carcinogenesis. Toxicol Sci. 2007 Mar;96(1):2-15. Review. [PMID: 17122412]
  8. Berkson BM. A conservative triple antioxidant approach to the treatment of hepatitis C. Combination of alpha lipoic acid (thioctic acid), silymarin, and selenium: three case histories. Med Klin (Munich). 1999 Oct 15;94 Suppl 3:84- 9. [PMID: 10554539]