Milk Thistle for Acne – How to Use It the Right Way?

Market aisles are teeming with skin care creams, ointments, cleansers and other products for every type of skin problem. Although many of these products effectively relieve skin issues, there is often a downside to using them.

Most skin care products contain strong chemicals that cause unwanted side-effects. Also, the results they produce are temporary. Natural remedies, on the other hand, offer reliable and long-lasting cures for different skin issues and without side-effects.

milk thistle for acne

Acne is an annoying, but common skin issue that affects adults and teenagers. We can effectively cure this problem using an herbal ingredient called Milk Thistle.

As an excellent source of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory components, the milk thistle plant has been used for centuries to treat not only skin disorders, but also liver issues, diabetes and various other health problems.

Let us learn more about this magical plant with the power to end all acne-related issues once and for all.

What Is Milk Thistle?

Also known as “silymarin”, milk thistle is a plant that belongs to the daisy family. Traditionally a native of the Mediterranean, milk thistle now grows throughout North America, Africa, Australia and Asia. This plant has bright, spiky purple flowers and its leaves release a milky sap when broken.

Milk thistle extract is obtained from the seeds of the plant. Although it is safe to consume the raw seeds, it is easier to have milk thistle in the form of an extract or supplement. Crushing or cracking the seeds releases its extract, which can be used in tinctures or capsules.

What Makes Milk Thistle an Effective Skin Care Solution?

Skin problems are caused by a combination of various genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. As the largest organ of our body, the skin is constantly exposed to environmental pollutants, dust and germs. Our general digestive health and stress levels also affect skin health, as the skin absorbs and eliminates toxins. So, there are many factors that can trigger different skin problems, affecting its overall appearance and well-being.

Milk thistle is an effective skin care ingredient with powerful detoxifying properties. When ingested it improves liver and intestine function and helps in flushing out toxins from the body. It neutralizes free radicals in the body, improves skin health and reduces associated problems.

One of the main ingredients of milk thistle is silymarin, which is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are excellent sources of anti-oxidants that act against free radicals in the skin. These delay ageing and improve overall skin tone.

Apart from flavonoids, milk thistle is an excellent source of Vitamin E and fatty acids like linoleic acid that protect and nourish the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase glutathione levels in the body to reduce chances of skin problems like psoriasis.

Main Skin Care Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a powerful herb with immense health benefits. It is popularly used to enhance liver health, manage diabetes and improve bone health.

Nevertheless, this plant is renowned for the skin benefits it provides. Here are some of the ways in which this simple herb helps the skin.

  • Prevents skin inflammation and redness: Conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne vulgaris cause swelling, redness and irritated skin. Silymarin in milk thistle has demulcent properties, by which it relieves irritation and inflammation during such conditions.
  • Detoxifies the body to improve overall skin health: Ingestion of milk thistle increases glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione has amazing detoxifying abilities. By cleansing the body from within, this ingredient thus improves overall skin health.
  • Makes skin soft and smooth: Milk thistle has linoleic acid, among other fatty acids that improve the natural moisture content of the skin. These ingredients leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated.
  • Improves complexion: The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of milk thistle improve the skin condition by combating signs of ageing and controlling skin reactions and flare-ups. Consistent use enhances skin quality, producing a clear complexion and better skin tone.
  • Protects skin from sun damage: The active ingredients in milk thistle shield the skin from oxidative stress caused by exposure to UV rays of the sun. With continuous use, you can repair signs of photo-aging and protect the skin from harmful UVB effects.
  • Effective anti-ageing remedy: As a rich source of anti-oxidants and flavonoids, milk thistle promotes cell growth and regeneration. It keeps the skin free from wrinkles and lines for much longer.
  • Helps soothe sensitive skin: Sensitive skin is prone to allergies, irritation, rashes and redness. By increasing the glutathione levels in the body and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, milk thistle helps to combat allergy conditions and soothes sensitive skin.
  • Repairs and restores skin: Silibinin in milk thistle repairs existing skin damage, thus restoring a youthful appearance and causing clear, blemish-free skin.
  • Effective acne remedy: By detoxifying the body, milk thistle creates a healthy environment for skin cells to repair themselves and grow. It also effectively soothes symptoms associated with acne, like redness, swelling and irritation.

Milk Thistle’s Amazing Effect on Acne

For years, milk thistle has yielded miraculous cures for acne conditions. In fact, tests by a team of scientists in 2012 revealed that acne lesion counts were reduced by a shocking 50% in participants who were administered milk thistle.

how to use milk thistle for acne

This action of milk thistle on acne is due to its ability to increase glutathione in the body. High levels of glutathione are necessary to nullify the reaction of metals and harmful compounds like mercury, arsenic and phthalates that make their way into the body.

Mercury and arsenic are notorious for reacting with cells and causing inflammation, skin break-outs and dead cell turnover. Phthalates and other chemicals like parabens and PEGs present in plastics, synthetic fragrances and skin care products also trigger acne breakouts.

By increasing glutathione in the blood stream, milk thistle enables the body to eliminate these toxins and keep acne away.

This herb also triggers the production of Superoxide Dismutase in the red blood cells of the body. SOD is a powerful antioxidant that acts against the free radicals in the skin, which cause acne. When SOD levels are high in the blood stream, acne formation is controlled.

Another key factor is that milk thistle provides relief against inflammation and redness associated with acne conditions. By soothing affected skin, milk thistle promotes skin repair and enables the skin to be restored to its original condition.

Finally, proper elimination of toxins and wastes from the body can happen only if the liver functions efficiently. Supporting the activity of the liver with natural herbs like milk thistle can improve its efficiency and in turn clear out acne and other associated skin conditions.

How to Use Milk Thistle for Acne Problems

Milk thistle can be orally consumed to experience its benefits against acne and other skin conditions. If you grow this herb or have access to fresh milk thistle plants, you also can use the leaves and flowers in salads or sandwiches to enjoy its benefits. Another way to consume the raw seeds is to add them to breakfast cereals or smoothies.

Milk thistle extract is commercially available as capsules, powders, oils and tinctures. The extract is prepared from seeds of the plant. Milk thistle supplements can be had with meals or between meals. Since the amount of extract will vary from brand to brand, always follow dosing instructions of a specific product to enjoy the benefits of this herb.

Milk thistle liquid extracts are also available, and these are more effective in delivering the benefits of the herb. It has a pleasant, uplifting aroma and taste and you can add it to teas or smoothies.

Cold pressed oil from the seeds of the milk thistle plant can be topically applied to areas of skin affected by acne. Simply mix few drops of milk thistle oil with a suitable carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil and apply it to acne-affected or sun damaged skin regularly.

Recipe for Milk Thistle Tea

Here is a simple recipe to make milk thistle tea for daily consumption.

Milk thistle seeds—100 grams
Hot water—1 cup


  • Crush the milk thistle seeds coarsely and stuff them inside a muslin bag. Seal the opening.
  • Add this bag to a cup of freshly boiled water and let it steep for several minutes.
  • You can add honey to flavor this tea or drink it as such

Recommended Dosage for Effective Skin Benefits Using Milk Thistle

When using milk thistle in supplement form as a capsule, tincture or powder, follow the guidelines provided with the pack for the safe and recommended daily dosage.

The suggested dosage of milk thistle is 100 to 250 grams per day.

When you use fresh seeds following the above recipe for milk thistle tea, you can enjoy up to 3 cups a day.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Choosing Milk Thistle for Best Results

There are different options when it comes to using milk thistle. It is available as capsules, powder, liquid extracts and in oil form.

For commercially available milk thistle products, those that provide 70% silymarin or more with a daily dosage of 100-300 grams are most effective. Regular and uninterrupted use for at least 3 months is necessary to experience the various skin benefits of this herb.

Here are some of the best milk thistle products in the market today.

1. Natural Wellness Ultra Thistle

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  • Higher dosage of silybin than other brands
  • Product also contains phosphatidylcholine that enhances silybin absorption

Not only does this the Natural Wellness brand of Milk Thistle provide higher quantities of silybin, it is better absorbed by the body due to the presence of phosphatidylcholine at the molecular level.

2. Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle

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  • Concentrated milk thistle with 30:1 extract in 150mg
  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
  • Non-GMO certified product

This vegetarian milk thistle capsule is standardized with 80% flavonoids from the milk thistle plant. It is allergen free and gluten free. Available at a very budget-friendly price, this brand offers good value for money and is a simple and affordable option.

3. Solaray Milk Thistle Extract

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  • Complex combination of milk thistle with turmeric root extract, dandelion root and artichoke
  • 175 mg milk thistle extract

The benefits of milk thistle in this formulation are further enhanced by supporting ingredients like turmeric root, dandelion root and artichoke. These vegetarian capsules have excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant characteristics, that effectively support liver functioning

Side-effects to Consider When Using Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is generally safe for consumption and topical application. However, it is necessary to limit usage to the recommended dosage limit for the product you choose. Over dosage can cause side-effects like diarrhea, loss of appetite, gas and headache can occur.

Milk thistle may also trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitivity to members of the daisy family. So, exercise caution when using it if you have a history of allergies to flowers like chrysanthemums or marigolds.

As with any new product, always start with a small test dose when you begin using milk thistle. Slowly build up to the suggested dosage once you confirm that you do not have any adverse reactions to the herb.

Limited studies have been performed on the effect of milk thistle usage by pregnant and lactating women. Hence, it is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Always check with a medical practitioner to ascertain the safety of use as well as the right dosage, if you have diabetes or hormone-sensitive conditions.

Concluding Thoughts…

Alternative treatments have often proven effective for various skin care issues like acne, psoriasis and eczema. As a popular detoxification remedy, milk thistle has been used for over 2000 years to treat liver problems and digestive health issues. However, the benefits do not end here.

By helping the body eliminate toxins, milk thistle encourages overall skin health by promoting skin repair and restoration. It is a rich source of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that neutralize photo damage and help with skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema.

With milk thistle available in various forms like capsules, powder and tinctures, it is easy and affordable to consume. This effective cleanser can work from the inside out and vice-versa, making the humble milk thistle a wonderful addition to your skin care regime and one that provides the long-lasting skin cure you deserve.

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