Can Milk Thistle Save Your Day?

We live in a society of quick fixes—frozen dinners popped into the microwave, drive-thru car washes and a plethora of pills to fix just about any ailment, from headaches to low testosterone.

So how many times have you had a way-too-fun night out and wished (read: begged) for a quick-fix for that agonizingly debilitating hangover that is still plaguing you hours later?

Instead of repeating, “I’m never drinking again,” over and over again in your head (because we all know you can’t say no to a Sunday Funday for the rest of your life), try milk thistle, one of the key ingredients in B4.

Milk thistle is an herbal remedy that has been around since the 4th century B.C. Other things happening in that time period? Alexander the Great’s conquests. Yep, it’s been around that long. It works to help detoxify and protect the liver, especially relating to alcohol use, by stabilizing cell membranes and stimulating protein synthesis while accelerating the process of regeneration in damaged liver tissue. Phew. When crushed, the plant’s leaves turn into a milky white liquid (hence the name). Milk thistle is your liver’s best friend and has been known to help with hepatitis, fibrosis, mushroom poisoning and fatty liver disease. Other added benefits include antioxidant properties and the ability to help lower cholesterol.

Digging in a little deeper, when we drink alcohol, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down the alcohol in our liver into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is crazy toxic. Your body wants to get rid of it, so it uses other enzymes, including glutathione, to continue the breaking-down process to protect the liver. Enter milk thistle, which has key antioxidants like silymarin and silybin, which has been found to increase glutathione and even regenerate liver cells. The National Cancer Institute even claims that silymarin “protects against cell damage and stimulates repair of liver tissue.”

Still following?

So when you drink too many martinis, your glutathione storage tank runs empty and that mean old acetaldehyde takes over, causing you to be hungover and claim you’re never drinking again. And ladies—you have less acetaldehyde dehydrogenase than men, which is why you may have more severe reactions to over-imbibing. Life just isn’t fair.

To get the full benefits of milk thistle and all its hippie-herbal-body-loving properties, research shows you should take the supplement for an extended period of time. So, if you know you’re going to more holiday parties during December, you should take the supplement the entire season.

Like everything in life, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Just like vitamins, it’s important to follow the intake recommendations because taking too much can have harmful side effects. While milk thistle is considered gentle and easy on the stomach, people who are allergic to certain plants, like ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow or daisies should make sure they’re also not allergic to milk thistle.

Nausea, headaches, sleepiness—the quick fix? Drink B4 with milk thistle to help protect your liver and save your next morning.