The liver is a large glandular organ, whose functions include decomposition of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, hormone production, secretion of bile, and conversion of sugars into glycogen, which it stores. The liver is also responsible for processing many vitamins and nutrients into a form that can be utilized by the body, as well as detoxification of various substances. Modern living involves daily exposure to substances that are toxic to our bodies, which imposes a heavy load on the liver. Therefore, a healthy liver is critical to well-being. Certain lifestyle risks and medical conditions make it all the more important to ensure that the liver is being maintained at its functional best. In Europe and Asia, herbal liver tonics have been in common use for centuries. The effectiveness of the herbs used has been validated during the past decades through modern research and clinical studies. These herbs generally contain antioxidants, cell membrane-stabilizing agents, bile secretion-enhancing compounds, or nutrients that prevent depletion of endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione. Hepatoprotection is beneficial not only for the liver but also for the overall health and vitality of the body. Silymarin is the major active compound from milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum), a member of the Compositae or daisy family. Silymarin is considered a flavonolignan mixture which is a unique type of bioflavonoid and an antioxidant that scavenges damaging free radicals. Scientific studies show that oral supplementation with silymarin can help support liver function. Silymarin has been shown to combat lipid peroxidation in the liver. It has also been demonstrated that silymarin may help promote healthy liver cells.
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