Does Milk Thistle Help With Hangovers?

When you meet your friends for a social hangout or to celebrate an achievement, you often drink much more than you plan to. You wake up with a horrible hangover that makes you want to do nothing the next day.

Some remedies are said to be effective for treating a hangover, milk thistle being one of them. Read on to understand more about milk thistles and whether they help with hangovers.

What is Milk Thistle?

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herb that was traditionally used as herbal medicine by the Greeks. They used it to ease the symptoms of stomach irritation and slow down the negative effects on the liver caused by bacteria and other toxins.

This herb grows in warm climates and is known by many names, such as silymarin. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties responsible for easing irritations.

You can distinguish this herb from others by its striking appearance. It has purple and white flowers. Their leaves are thin and spiky and can grow into dense vegetation.

The main part of the plant is the seeds, which are used for medicinal purposes and reducing hangovers.

Silymarin is sold in tablet or syrup form and promoted as a supplement to help reduce hangovers. Besides this function, the herb is also used for treating diabetes, balancing hormones, improving skin health, preventing bone loss, and boosting immunity.

Is Milk Thistle Good for Hangovers?

After drinking too much alcoholic beverages, you may wake up with a strong headache, a nauseated feeling, tiredness, dehydration, and stomach discomfort. The fastest form of relief is to find the readily available ingredients in your house that can help ease the hangover. 

If you are a frequent drinker, you have probably heard about milk thistle and may have a few tablets in your possession. Here is what happens to your body:

When you drink too much alcohol, it raises the levels of the reactive oxygen species. These are damaging molecules that affect your liver, causing it to scar in a condition known as cirrhosis.

When intoxicated, a lot of biological processes take place. Enzymes are released in generous quantities to help digest the alcohol and break it into water and carbon dioxide.  

If you are a woman, you experience worse hangovers than men because your body does not produce these enzymes in large quantities, unlike your male counterparts. 

Milk thistle helps reduce the release of the reactive oxygen species. As a result, you feel less nauseated, your stomach becomes less irritable, and you have reduced indigestion.

Also, taking milk thistle before and after drinking heavily helps protect your liver from the scarring caused by excessive drinking. 

However, the efficiency of milk thistle in treating hangovers is not scientific. Researchers are still working on the results of studies, which are still inconclusive. 

What Are the Common Effects of Milk Thistle?

Although milk thistle is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help remove toxins from the body, it has some undesirable effects. You may experience:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Heartburn

The side effects are mild but can worsen when you are on prescribed medication. 

Who Shouldn’t Use Milk Thistle?

We all would like to have some fun time with friends without thinking about the aftermath of heavy drinking. Although milk thistle has had promising results in treating hangovers, it is not suitable for everyone.

You are advised against using milk thistle if:

  • You are pregnant.
  • You are allergic to kiwi, artichokes, ragweed, marigolds, chrysanthemums, or daisies.
  • You are breastfeeding.
  • You are on prescribed medication.
  • You are undergoing cancer chemotherapy.

If you have any underlying health condition, consider consulting your physician before taking these supplements.

Other Hangover Cures

There are many remedies people use to ease the effects of hangovers. But most of them do not have any scientific basis for explaining how they help.

Milk thistle is among the popular options, and we have discussed how it works. Let us broaden our options for other alternatives you can use.


Water is a natural remedy that helps in hydrating your body. Sometimes, excess alcohol can make you sweat, have diarrhea, or vomit.

Excess alcohol also makes you lose a lot of electrolytes in your body by increasing your urge for urination. The loss of electrolytes and body fluids makes your body prone to dehydration.

When drinking, try alternating your drinks with a few glasses of water. It can also help control your alcohol intake.

After waking up from a night of heavy drinking, drink water first thing and continue drinking some more throughout the day. If you feel nauseated, take small sips as often as you can.


Sleeping gives your body time to repair broken tissues. But when you drink excess alcohol, your sleeping pattern may become disrupted.

When you lack quality sleep, your hangover gets worse. You wake up with severe headaches, fatigue, fever, and irritability.

Make time to get enough sleep. Although it does not cure hangovers, it helps relieve other symptoms.

IV Therapy

If you have trouble eating and keeping anything down, you can use IV therapy to treat your hangover. This remedy uses natural ingredients that hydrate your body and provide essential minerals and nutrients.

Eating a Nutritious Breakfast

A hangover is certainly not something anyone looks forward to. The horrible morning feeling makes most of us nauseous and hesitant to put anything in our mouths.

Instead of avoiding every kind of food, consider making an exception for a balanced and nutritious breakfast. This is crucial because quality food helps raise the blood sugars that have already been lowered during alcohol breakdown by the body.

A nutritious breakfast helps restore sugar levels. When you have a hearty and healthy breakfast, you gain strength, and you start to notice that the headaches become manageable.

Pain Relievers

Pain relievers bought over the counter can help reduce headaches and fatigue. However, not all pain relievers effectively address hangover headaches.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are generally preferred because they are used for the general treatment of pain. But if you are experiencing nausea and stomach irritations, do not use these pain relievers because they tend to worsen your condition.

When treating hangovers, avoid pain killers that contain Tylenol. These contain acetaminophen, which, when mixed with alcohol, can lead to severe liver complications.

Hangovers should not be reason enough for you to avoid social functions. Several remedies are already available. Although milk thistle is good for curing hangovers, there have not been conclusive findings on how it works scientifically. Still, it is helpful to note its positive effects and try it for yourself when suffering from a severe hangover.