Silibinin is the most active component of a complex of flavonoids -silymarin contained in fruit milk thistle (Sylibum marianum). Its mechanism of action is complex and highly beneficial in protecting hepatocytes.
On the one hand this compound blocks the penetration of various toxins (for example amanitin) into the hepatocytes not allowing in this way for the cell death and on the other hand, it prevents apoptosis through intracellular. It protects the liver from oxidative intracellular free radicals by increasing the activity of enzyme superoxide dismutase and peroxidase, as well as by increasing the concentration of glutathione and the activity of the peroxidase. Silibinin strengthens and stabilizes the cell membranes, inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins associated with the lipid peroxidation and promotes regeneration of liver through the stimulation of protein synthesis and effect on the production of new hepatocytes. A particularly interesting topic from the perspective of a toxicologist is the application of silibinin in Amanita phalloides poisoning. Clinical trials conducted in this respect are very encouraging. The other beneficial application of silibinin is in therapy of the alcoholic liver cirrhosis. The evidence shows that the use of silymarin leads to a significant reduction in liver-related mortality and even reduction in the number of patients with encephalopathy in the course of the disease. Application of silibinin goes beyond liver disease and expands in the direction of cancer and even diabetes. What is interesting is the fact, that the substance of herbal origin occurring in the environment is so strong, favorable, beneficial and multidirectional. Science has contributed to improving the bioavailability of silibinin thus making it more effective.
Przegl Lek. 2012;69(8):541-3.