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A first century Roman naturalist. A seventeenth century English herbalist. A commission of modern day German physicians and scientists. What do all these people have in common? They are among those who realized that milk thistle may play an important role in promoting health.

To gain further appreciation of its health benefits, it is possible to study milk thistle (as well as other herbs, nutrients and foods) through the lens of herbal astrology. Through this periscope, we can further appreciate the ways in which milk thistle may serve to protect health and well-being.

Milk Thistle is Linked to Jupiter

Jupiter, the planetary ďrulerĒ of Sagittarius and co-ruler of Pisces, is associated with milk thistle and the phytochemical compounds contained in it. In mythology, Jupiter aimed to maintain an order of peace in the world through his role as the supreme god of heaven who omnisciently presided over everyone, gods and mortals alike. In astrology, Jupiter is recognized for its energies that greatly expand your horizons, enabling you to be the ruler of your own domain through a more complete understanding of the world. As such, Jupiter is associated with areas such as growth, prosperity, religion and philosophy.

Milk thistle reflects Jupiterian qualities in a variety of ways. Just as Jupiter was recognized for his aegis, milk thistle also features a powerful protective shield. Silymarin, milk thistleís active ingredient, is found in high concentration in the coats of its fruit seeds. Jupiterís association with religion is also mirrored in milk thistle by virtue of the plantís Latin name, Silybum marianum. Marianum refers to the Virgin Mary, as it was thought that the white veins that run through the plantís mottled leaves originated from her breast milk.

Milk Thistle and the Liver

Jupiter rules the liver, the organ on which silymarin exerts many of its promising health-promoting effects. Just as Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, the liver is the largest internal organ in our bodies. The liver reflects Jupiterís role of being the omnipotent protector as it plays an important role in maintaining health through its involvement in the detoxification of harmful compounds, the filtration of the blood and the synthesis of bile.

Silymarin protects the liver in a variety of ways. It helps to combat free radical damage to the liver, notably through its ability to increase levels of glutathione1, an important antioxidant that detoxifies an array of hormones, drugs and chemicals. In its expansive Jupiterian manner, silymarin also supports liver health through its ability to stimulate the growth of new liver cells2. Silymarin also seems to provide liver cells with a Jupiterian aegis of protection against harmful compounds through its ability to alter the liver cell membranes in a way that prevents certain toxins from penetrating3.

Through these supportive effects, milk thistle and silymarin are sometimes used clinically to minimize liver damage caused by certain conditions. Research suggests that alcohol-related liver diseases, hepatitis and cirrhosis may all be helped by silymarin4. Additionally, these phytochemicals may help to reduce the liver damage caused by certain drugs, including some antidepressant and anticonvulsive medications 5.

In our modern day environment, our livers have the burden of detoxifying an extensive array of chemicals found in our water, air and food. Since many of these compounds can stress the body and potentially lead to ill health, many people take milk thistle supplements for general health and wellness purposes because of its potential to support the liverís detoxification functions. Additionally, silymarin may protect the liver against the negative impacts of alcohol5, a substance ruled by Jupiter-governed Pisces.

How To Use Milk Thistle

As researchers currently believe that it is the silymarin constituent that exerts much of milk thistleís potency, many nutritionally-oriented health experts recommend that people use a milk thistle product that is standardized to silymarin content. Much of the clinical research has been done using milk thistle standardized to 70-80 percent silymarin. According to the Commission E Monographs, the recognized dosage for standardized milk thistle formulations for toxic liver damage, inflammatory liver disease and cirrhosis is 200Ė400 mg per day of silymarin3. For general support of the liverís detoxification functions, healthcare practitioners recommend a dosage of half of that amount.

It is important to always consult a licensed healthcare provider if you are thinking of using milk thistle or other dietary supplements to treat any health condition. Additionally, you should tell your healthcare provider about all of the dietary supplements that you are taking so that s/he can evaluate any potential drug-supplement interactions.


  1. Brown, D. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rockin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996.
  2. Murray, M. The Healing Power of Herbs. 2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Health, 1995.
  3. Blumenthal, M. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1998.
  4. Murray, M., and Pizzorno, J. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Rockin, CA: Prima Health, 1998.
  5. Wood M. The Book of Herbal Wisdom. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1997.

Editorís note: The health information given in this article is not meant as a substitute for care from a qualified physician. This information is given for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or presecribe. is not responsible for any mishaps that occur as a result of using this information.

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Stephanie Gailing, MS, CN, is a Certified Nutritionist, astrologer and freelance natural health writer. She holds her Masters Degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University, where she currently serves as adjunct faculty. Stephanie has been involved in the natural products industry for more than ten years, with experiences ranging from operating her own natural products retail store to serving as a marketing consultant for dietary supplement companies.

Send an email to the author.

For more information about Stephanie Gailing, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Stephanie Gailing:

  • Herbal Astrology: Cayenne   4/3/2003
  • Herbal Astrology: Valerian   11/6/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Bilberry   10/16/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Vitex   9/4/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Chamomile   8/7/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Licorice   7/24/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Horse Chestnut   7/10/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Feverfew   6/5/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Hawthorn   5/22/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: St. John's Wort   4/10/2000
  • Herbal Astrology: Garlic   3/20/2000

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