So now we know where Milk Thistle is grown and the important seasons for the raw material but how do we get to the usable active material?
Manufacturers can use three different solvents in the process of extracting the viable Silymarin from the raw material. Each solvent type can affect the pricing of the Milk Thistle Extract.
The most commonly used extraction solvent for Silymarin is Acetone. This method is the most cost effective option for extraction and thusly provides the most competitive prices in the market, which in turn has made it the most popular type of material on the market.
For parts of Europe the Ethyl Acetate extracted Silymarin is preferred. The price of Ethyl Acetate extracted Silymarin is higher than Acetone extracted material but lower than Ethanol extracted material.
Silymarin is a naturally occurring polyphenolic antioxidant flavonoid. This active ingredient is only soluble in alcohol and not water, thus making an alcohol extract the preferred medium of extraction, but the material from Ethanol extraction is generally the highest priced in the market. This material is mainly sold in Japan, though due to higher demand for cleaner products we may see an increase in demand for Ethanol extracted material in the near future.
What you should know about the most common grades of Silymarin…
UV 80% Silymarin
- Appeared more prominently in the market in recent years.
- This is usually the remaining material leftover after silybin extraction for pharmaceutical use.
- This material can be very easy to adulterate.
- You can use HPLC to identify quality material, milk thistle has 6 main contents, and if any additional peaks appear there may be adulteration.
- Low silybin content
- Price is low
UV 80% Silymarin, 40%, 45%, 50% silymarin by HPLC, 25%, 30% Silybin+Isosilybin
- These are the traditional grades.
- Naturally extracted.
- It is easy to avoid adulteration by using HPLC to test the contents of Silymarin and Silybin+Isosilybin.
- Higher Silybin and Isosilybin content
What are the most common uses of Milk Thistle Extract?
Milk Thistle Extract is now most commonly used in Liver Health Products. The Sylmarin market has seen a large increase of use in Detox products, Sports Nutrition products and Women’s Health products, in recent years. The inclusion of Slymarin in the formulation of products has been focused around the prevention and treatment for disorders of the liver, prostate, bile ducts, and gallbladder.