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​Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA: Comparing Their Benefits for Liver Health and Beyond

​Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA: Comparing Their Benefits for Liver Health and Beyond

Posted by Leonard Shemtob on Apr 18, 2023

Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA: Comparing Their Benefits for Liver Health and Beyond

Introduction:

The liver is a vital organ in the human body, responsible for detoxification, metabolism, and digestion, among other functions. With the increasing prevalence of liver diseases and people looking for effective ways to improve liver health, the popularity of natural supplements has risen. Milk thistle and TUDCA are two liver supplements that have gained attention for their potential benefits in liver health. Many fitness people and bodybuilders use various supplements on a daily basis, which in some cases can be hard on the liver. You may be wanting to support, cleanse or strengthen your liver. In this article, we will explore the key benefits of these supplements, compare their efficacy, and discuss potential side effects, as well as how they might fit into a liver cleanse regimen.

Milk Thistle: An Overview

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat liver and gallbladder disorders. The active extract in milk thistle, known as silymarin, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

TUDCA: An Overview

Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) is a bile acid found naturally in small amounts in the human body. Bile acids are crucial for digestion, absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins, and regulating cholesterol levels. TUDCA has been studied for its potential in promoting liver health and treating certain liver diseases.

Milk Thistle for Liver Health

Milk thistle has been widely studied for its potential benefits in liver health. Its active extract, silymarin, has been shown to protect liver cells from damage caused by toxins, drugs, and alcohol intake. Additionally, silymarin may stimulate liver regeneration and reduce inflammation in the liver.

TUDCA for Liver Health

TUDCA has gained attention for its potential in treating liver diseases such as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Research has indicated that TUDCA can promote healthy liver function by reducing inflammation, stabilizing liver enzymes, and promoting bile flow.

Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA:

Liver Enzyme Levels Both milk thistle and  TUDCA have been shown to positively impact liver enzyme levels, which are markers of liver function. Elevated liver enzymes can indicate liver damage or disease. While milk thistle has been shown to reduce liver enzymes in some studies, TUDCA has demonstrated more consistent results in reducing liver enzyme levels and improving liver function.

Milk Thistle for Liver Disease

Milk thistle has been studied for its potential in treating various liver diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. While some studies have shown positive results, others have not been as conclusive. Overall, more research is needed to establish milk thistle's effectiveness in treating specific liver diseases.

TUDCA for Liver Disease

TUDCA has shown promising results in treating liver diseases such as PBC and NAFLD. Studies have found that TUDCA can improve liver function in patients with PBC and reduce liver fat accumulation in patients with NAFLD. These findings indicate that TUDCA may be a more effective option for specific liver diseases compared to milk thistle.

Side Effects of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is generally considered safe when taken as a supplement. However, some people may experience mild side effects such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. It is also important to note that milk thistle can interact with certain medications, so it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before taking milk thistle supplements.

Side Effects of TUDCA

TUDCA is also generally considered safe when taken as a supplement. However, some people may experience mild side effects such as stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea. As with milk thistle, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking TUDCA supplements to avoid potential drug interactions.

Liver Cleanse:

Milk Thistle and TUDCA A liver cleanse is a process aimed at detoxifying and improving liver function. Milk thistle and TUDCA can be incorporated into a liver cleanse regimen due to their potential liver health benefits. While there is limited scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of liver cleanses, incorporating these supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional may be beneficial for some individuals.

Milk Thistle and Bile Acids

Milk thistle's active extract, silymarin, may interact with bile acids to promote liver health. It has been suggested that silymarin can increase bile production and flow, aiding in the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. This can contribute to improved liver function and overall health.

TUDCA and Bile Acids

As a bile acid itself, TUDCA plays a crucial role in digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. TUDCA has been shown to promote healthy bile flow and reduce bile acid buildup in the liver, which can lead to liver damage if left unchecked. This makes TUDCA a valuable supplement for liver health.

Milk Thistle and Liver Enzymes

Milk thistle has been shown to have a positive impact on liver enzymes in some studies, indicating improved liver function. However, results have been inconsistent, and more research is needed to establish the extent of milk thistle's effects on liver enzymes.

TUDCA and Liver Enzymes

TUDCA has demonstrated more consistent results in reducing liver enzyme levels and improving liver function. By stabilizing liver enzymes, TUDCA may help protect the liver from damage and support healthy liver function.

Healthy Liver Function: Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA

Both milk thistle and TUDCA have been shown to promote healthy liver function, with TUDCA demonstrating more consistent results in clinical studies. While milk thistle may provide some liver health benefits, TUDCA appears to be a more effective option for improving liver function and treating specific liver diseases.

TUDCA Benefits:

  • Promotes healthy liver function
  • Reduces liver enzyme levels
  • Supports bile flow and bile acid regulation
  • Protects against hepatotoxic effects of oral anabolic steroids
  • Reduces inflammation in the liver
  • Helps treat liver diseases, such as primary biliary cholangitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Supports blood sugar regulation
  • May benefit metabolic health
  • Aids in the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins

Milk Thistle Extract Benefits:

  • Contains powerful antioxidant properties
  • Exhibits anti-inflammatory effects
  • Supports liver health and function
  • Protects liver cells from damage caused by toxins, drugs, and alcohol
  • May stimulate liver regeneration
  • Reduces inflammation in the liver
  • Increases bile production and flow
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity
  • May lower cholesterol levels
  • Has a long history of use in traditional medicine for liver and gallbladder disorders

Bodybuilding & On Cycle Support: Tudca vs milk thistle extract:

Liver health is crucial, as certain anabolic steroids, supplements, and intense training regimens can place additional stress on the liver. Both TUDCA and milk thistle have been used as on-cycle support supplements by bodybuilders to help protect the liver and maintain overall health. Here, we will discuss the potential benefits and differences between TUDCA and milk thistle in the context of bodybuilding and on-cycle support.

  1. TUDCA and Bodybuilding

    TUDCA is particularly popular among bodybuilders who use oral anabolic steroids, which can be hepatotoxic (harmful to the liver). TUDCA's ability to stabilize liver enzymes, reduce inflammation, and promote bile flow can help protect the liver from damage caused by oral steroid use. Additionally, TUDCA's benefits on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation can be beneficial for bodybuilders looking to optimize their metabolic health.

    Milk Thistle and Bodybuilding

  2. Milk thistle is also used by some bodybuilders as on-cycle support due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active extract, silymarin, may help protect liver cells from damage caused by toxins and oxidative stress, which can be increased during intense training and the use of performance-enhancing substances. However, the evidence for milk thistle's effectiveness in this context is less consistent than that of TUDCA. In addition milk thistle alone does not constitute a good on cycle protocol. 

    TUDCA vs. Milk Thistle: On-Cycle Support

  3. When it comes to on-cycle support, TUDCA appears to be more effective than milk thistle for bodybuilders, particularly those using harsh anabolics. TUDCA's demonstrated ability to reduce liver enzyme levels and promote healthy liver function may provide better protection against hepatotoxic effects. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using either supplement, especially when using strong anabolics and or other performance-enhancing substances.

    Safety and Precautions

  4. As with any supplement, it is crucial to choose high-quality products from reputable manufacturers and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating TUDCA or milk thistle into your routine. This is particularly important for bodybuilders who may be using other supplements or substances that could interact with these liver support supplements. Remember that liver support supplements should not replace a well-balanced diet, proper hydration, and a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Both TUDCA and milk thistle have potential benefits for bodybuilders looking for on-cycle liver support. However, TUDCA appears to be more effective in this context, especially for those using oral anabolic steroids. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using these supplements and to prioritize overall health and safety in your bodybuilding pursuits
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  7. Best On Cycles that Contain Milk Thistle Plant:
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Milk Thistle and Heart Health

Milk thistle has also been studied for its potential benefits in heart health. Some research suggests that milk thistle may help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control, both of which are important for maintaining a healthy heart.

TUDCA and Insulin Sensitivity

TUDCA has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in some studies. By enhancing insulin sensitivity, TUDCA may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and promote overall metabolic health.

Milk Thistle and Blood Sugar

Milk thistle's active extract, silymarin, may help regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

TUDCA and Bile Acid Regulation

As a bile acid, TUDCA plays a crucial role in regulating bile acid levels in the body. By promoting healthy bile flow and preventing bile acid buildup, TUDCA supports liver health and overall digestive function.

Traditional Medicine:

Milk Thistle vs. TUDCA Milk thistle has a long history of use in traditional medicine for treating liver and gallbladder disorders, while TUDCA's use is relatively more recent. Despite their different historical backgrounds, both supplements have demonstrated potential benefits for liver health in modern research.

Safety and Precautions

While milk thistle and TUDCA are generally considered safe, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your routine, especially if you are taking medications or have pre-existing health conditions. As with any supplement, it is crucial to choose high-quality products from reputable manufacturers to ensure safety and efficacy.

Questions and Answers about Tudca Vs Milk Thistle:

Should you take milk thistle with TUDCA? 

You can take milk thistle with TUDCA.

What is better than milk thistle? 

The effectiveness of natural supplements like milk thistle can vary significantly from person to person. It's not that one is universally better than another, it's about what is suitable for your body and needs. Other popular liver health supplements include TUDCA, NAC, and artichoke leaf. It appears however overall that Tudca is more effective and better than Milk Thistle. 

Who should not use TUDCA? 

Pregnant and nursing women, children, and individuals with medical conditions like gallstones or bile duct obstructions should avoid TUDCA. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Does TUDCA repair liver? 

TUDCA is believed to promote liver health by improving bile flow and reducing liver enzyme levels. It's shown promise in preliminary studies, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness in liver repair.

Can TUDCA reverse fatty liver? 

While TUDCA has shown promise in research for its potential role in supporting liver health, more extensive studies are needed to determine if it can directly reverse fatty liver disease.

What Cannot be taken with milk thistle? 

There are no known specific contraindications with milk thistle and other substances, but it may interact with certain medications, like antipsychotics, seizure medication, and allergy drugs. Consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Is milk thistle hard on the liver? 

Milk thistle is generally considered safe for most people and is often used to promote liver health. However, in high doses, it may cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and bloating.

Is it OK to take milk thistle every day? 

Milk thistle is generally considered safe for daily use. However, you should always follow the dosage instructions on the supplement or as advised by your healthcare provider.

Will milk thistle cleanse my liver? 

Milk thistle is commonly used for its liver-protective effects and it may help support liver health. However, the term "cleanse" is not medically defined and the body naturally detoxifies itself.

Is TUDCA best liver support? 

TUDCA is highly regarded for liver support, especially for conditions related to impaired bile flow. However, the "best" supplement varies based on individual health needs and should be determined by a healthcare provider.

Conclusion

Milk thistle and TUDCA are both natural supplements that have gained attention for their potential benefits in liver health. While milk thistle has a longer history of use in traditional medicine and may provide some liver health benefits, TUDCA appears to be more effective in promoting healthy liver function and treating specific liver diseases. Both supplements have also been studied for their potential benefits in heart health, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar regulation. Ultimately, the choice between milk thistle and TUDCA will depend on individual needs and preferences, as well as consultation with a healthcare professional and or medical professional to ensure safety and appropriate use.

Written and Sponsored by Leonard Shemtob

Leonard Shemtob is President of Strong Supplements. Leonard has been in the supplement space for over 20 years, specializing in fitness supplements and nutrition. Leonard has written over 100 articles about supplements and has studied nutrition, supplementation and bodybuilding. Leonard enjoys weight training, playing basketball and yoga, and also enjoys hiking. In his free time he studies and works on improving himself. His personal blog is www.leonardshemtob.com

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  3. Invernizzi, P., Setchell, K. D., Crosignani, A., Battezzati, P. M., Larghi, A., O'Connell, N. C., & Podda, M. (1999). Effects of ursodeoxycholic acid and tauroursodeoxycholic acid on liver function in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 13(1), 97-104.
  4. Arrese, M., Cabrera, D., Kalergis, A. M., & Feldstein, A. E. (2016). Innate immunity and inflammation in NAFLD/NASH. Digestive diseases and sciences, 61(5), 1294-1303. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-016-4096-3
  5. Colak, E., Ustuner, M. C., Tekin, N., & Colak, E. (2015). The hepatic curative effects of Cynara scolymus L. leaf extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and hepatic injury in rats. SpringerPlus, 4(1), 1-10.
  6. Vajro, P., Mandato, C., Franzese, A., Ciccimarra, E., Lucariello, S., Savoia, M., & Capuano, G. (2000). Effects of L-carnitine on liver function tests in Rett syndrome. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, 31(4), 364-367. 

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