An ancient Italian recipe from Alps that wants to bring back to life. Here, an ancient herbal remedy dear to us herbalists: we tell about an herbal bitter with selectioned herbs for improve digestion, among all Milk thistle. 


From an ancient Piedmontese recipe, was born “Cardo Mariano Composto Liquidum” (Milk Thistle Liquid Compound), a food supplement that can promote the physiological digestive and intestinal functions thanks to the action of the vegetable principles contained in it, it is available on our online site of Erboristeria Como and is a mix of hydroalcoholic extracts. The ancient original formulation comes from Dr. Ulrich, a Piedmontese botanist who with his “ Ulrich” between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, became one of the leading companies in the field of medicinal herbs and herbal medicine: his extracts , infusions, bitters and syrups based on herbs from the Piedmontese tradition were appreciated throughout Italy.

Milk Thistle Liquid Compound processing systems are still completely traditional and are not modern in nature and maintain the active and aromatic ingredients that characterize the product.

The recipe: how extraction method use for Milk Thistle Compound

Milk Thistle Liquid Compound is composed of hydro-alcoholic extracts from fresh plants, which are liquid preparations generally obtained using a part of vegetable drug and 10 parts of extraction solvent and are commercially called “mother tinctures”. A set of hydroalcoholic extracts can therefore be called “compound mother tincture“. The mother tinctures are also prepared respecting a different alcohol content from plant to plant and this favors the extraction of the active ingredients that qualify the activity of the drug and also leaves unchanged the typical characteristics of each plant, as regards color and fragrance and taste really refer to the fresh plant.

Extractions with ethyl alcohol titrated (diluted with water) allow to extract the phytocomplexes (the pool of active ingredients) in liquid form, which can be stored for a long time and easily dosed. Most polar active ingredients (more soluble in water) need a low alcohol content to pass into solution, less polar active ingredients (less soluble in water) need a high alcohol content to pass into solution. The ethyl alcohol therefore easily solvates the apolar active principles (bitter principles, glucosides, essential oils ..), the water instead the polar ones (sugars, gums, mineral salts, anthocyanins ..).

When choosing the extractive form of any medicinal plant, it is necessary to have in mind what are the active ingredients of this and their chemical characteristics. If I have a plant with mineral salts, mucilages, sugars, it will be useless to use a mother tincture which, having an alcohol content between 45 and 65 °, will bring very little of these substances into solution. If the plant is composed predominantly of bitter substances, organic acids or alcohols, this form is well received.

The herbal remedy formulation: parameters to considered

The mixing of more drugs (where “drug” means the part of the plant that contains the greater quantity of active ingredients) is well formulated if:

– it consists of a main (or basic) drug which ensures the required effect and which will be present in greater quantities than the others, and by a secondary (or adjuvant) drug which by synergy reinforces the action of the first remedy or compensates, with a similar action, for any potentially unfavorable side effects; if necessary, a corrective drug can be added, which corrects the taste or smell of the basic drug, a soothing drug, which decreases the irritating action of the basic drug, a drug manager, which directs the drug action of based in one sense rather than another and / or a landscaping drug. But remember that the greater the number of drugs to mix and the smaller the available quantity of each single drug: the quantities are important to calculate.

– the mixing of physically, chemically and pharmacologically incompatible drugs is avoided. If you want to mix different hydro-alcoholic extracts, it must be remembered that the combination of several active substances can upset the chemical-physical balance and the therapeutic action of the components, sometimes leading to an exaltation of certain physiological or curative properties (synergism) or vice versa to a decrease, if not to the disappearance, of such properties (incompatibility). For example, as regards physical incompatibilities: the mixing of dyes or fluid extracts of different alcohol levels, for example 20 ° more or less, is incompatible because it causes precipitation of insoluble active ingredients with a non-compliant alcohol content and therefore cloudiness ; the mixing of a dye or a fluid extract with aqueous solutions is incompatible because it causes precipitation of the active ingredients dissolved in the alcohol.

The composition of our digestive herbal remedy

Let’s now move on to the actual composition of Milk Thistle Liquid Compound: this herbal preparation contains liquorice mother tincture, horseradish mother tincture, milk thistle mother tincture, boldo mother tincture, dandelion mother tincture, rhubarb mother tincture and rosemary mother tincture.

Licorice root is an ancient remedy for gastric disorders. Thanks to the presence of glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhetinic acid and flavonoids, in addition to exerting a flammable action it is able to stimulate the production of mucus by the cells of the gastric tissue thus protecting the gastric mucosa. There would also be an important antioxidant (cellular protection) and antibacterial action against Helicobacter Pylori. It is contraindicated in cases of hypertension, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, kidney failure (a note: in our Gastro Rebuild product licorice does not have these side effects as it is in the form of a patented ad hoc extract). In the herbalist field, licorice is also used to correct the taste of some preparations and to improve, thanks to its surfactant properties, the intestinal absorption of poorly absorbable substances.

Horseradish root (or Armoracia rusticana G.Gaertn., B.Mey. & Scherb., Brassicaceae family): contains essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and magnesium and is rich in vitamin C, much more than citrus fruits . The root of the intact horseradish has almost no taste, when instead it is grated, enzymes that split sinigrin (volatile oil with strong antibacterial properties) are activated into allyl isothiocyanate the molecule responsible for the spicy taste. The grated horseradish should be used immediately, the pulp once exposed to air or heat will begin to lose its pungent taste, to darken color, and to become unpleasantly bitter over time. Mentioned in the Old Testament Exodus among the bitter herbs of the Hebrew Passover, horseradish is known for its properties since ancient times. Traditional medicine recommends the use of horseradish root against colds and flu, for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and mucolytic properties on the respiratory tract. By virtue of the remarkable depurative properties in the liver, horseradish root is present in numerous supplements, in association with other plants such as, in this case, the dandelion. Moreover, like all spicy foods, even horseradish would be able to speed up the metabolism, helping to burn excess fats. Some Authors (Bézanger-Beauquesne, Van Hellemont) recognize this plant only cholecystokinetic properties and indicate it in biliary dyskinesias or in chronic biliary disorders especially if accompanied by dyspepsia and constipation. Other authors, such as Valnet, Leclerc, Bergeret and Tétau, on the other hand consider it an active antilitisiaco of sure and proven efficacy.

Milk thistle (fruit): Milk thistle (rich in silymarin) is the plant that has the most benefits to the liver, the hepatic protector par excellence, also favoring the detoxification processes. It acts as an antioxidant, promotes the production of glutathione and increases the speed with which the liver tissue is regenerated. Experimental studies have shown different pharmacological properties: antioxidants, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antiulcer. The German Commission recommends the drug for the treatment of digestive disorders and a standardized 70% silymarin extract for liver changes and for the adjuvant treatment of hepatitis and chronic cirrhosis.

Boldo (leaves): acts mainly on the digestive system: stimulation of salivary secretion and gastric juice; stomachic and digestive action; increased bile production and its excretion from the gallbladder; slight laxative effect; moderate renal action with slight diuretic effects. On the nervous system a slight sedative and hypnotic action is observed. In practice, boldo and its preparations are exclusively used in small liver failure, such as choleretic and cholagogues. It is however contraindicated in case of occlusion of the biliary tract, in subjects suffering from gallstones and in severe hepatopathies. For ESCOP, boldo is used internally as an indication of mild hepatobiliary dysfunction and symptomatic treatment of mild digestive disorders. Indicated by Bettiol as an anti-lithiasic colagogue and its action is enhanced by synergism with rhubarb.

The dandelion (root), of the compositae family, is known for its choleretic, cholagogue, hepatostimulant and slightly diuretic actions. The whole plant (rhizome and roots included) is specifically recommended in states characterized by alteration of bile flow and to stimulate diuresis (Capasso, Grandolini, Izzo Phytotherapy Springer Verlag Italy 2006). Giovanni Negri in the volume New Figurative Herbarium (G. Negri New Figurative Herbarium Ulrico Hoepli Publisher Milan 1976) writes: “Pharmacologically this species is known since ancient times for its property to promote bile flow and experimental and clinical research have confirmed these quality of cholagogue, dependent on the stimulation of the gall bladder contractions, as well as light purgative and diuretic; as bitter it then stimulates, according to the usual reflex mechanism, the secretion of the gastric juice and the circulation of the organs of the pelvis. It is commonly used in all hepatic-biliary disorders, dyspepsias accompanied by flatulence, gastritis, habitual constipation, kidney disorders accompanied by effusion, cystitis and in general diseases in which a replacement activation is required “. A plant, therefore, with a precise hepatic-biliary and renal tropism, usable in a wide range of pathologies linked to the malfunctioning of these organs. “For ESCOP used internally it has as an indication the recovery of hepatic and biliary function, dyspepsia, inappetence.

Rhubarb, due to the presence of tannins (5%), has a dual action: in small doses it is a tonic, stomachic, eupeptic, while at an adequate posology it becomes an anthraquinone laxative (in the large intestine this laxative inhibits the reabsorption of water and electrolytes, with increased intestinal peristalsis). Contraindications: do not use it in case of occasional constipation (chronic), in the inflammatory and congestive states of the pelvis and in the oxaluric diathesis due to the presence of calcium oxalate. For ESCOP used internally, it indicates the short-term treatment of occasional constipation. Bettiol indicates rhubarb as a synergy of boldo.

Rosemary: the main properties currently recognized as leaves and flowering tops of rosemary are represented by those antispasmodic, choleretic and antioxidants that make the plant useful in the symptomatic treatment of digestive disorders and to facilitate the functions of renal and intestinal elimination (draining action). “Preparations of rosemary, with adequate posology, exert a neurotonic and rebalancing action in all those cases where necessary, to improve the general state, regularize the hepatodigestive state, detoxifying the organism” (E. Campanini, complementary therapies in geriatrics). For ESCOP used internally, its indication is improvement of hepatic and biliary functions and dyspeptic disorders.

Milk thistle Liquid: a natural digestive with purifying action

Milk Thistle Liquid Compound has both digestive and purifying action on the body and one facilitates the other. The “digestive” drugs (containing bitter principles) directly stimulate the receptors of taste and smell and gastric secretion, have an antibacterial action on the intestinal flora and stimulate the secretion of bile; they also promote the expulsion of excess intestinal gas.

The purifying action is useful as an accumulation of toxins can negatively affect the functioning of various organs and favor the onset of health problems. Drinking a lot is important but not enough: many common substances (eg caffeine), are not automatically eliminated with urine, they must first be neutralized by the liver. The main organ for detoxification (neutralization of toxins) is the liver, and for elimination the intestine and kidneys. In the long run these waste if not properly disposed, favor a condition of toxemia and first consequences can be signals sent by our body, such as:

  • chronic fatigue
  • intestinal irritation or constipation
  • rash
  • headache

The liver is a complex organ that plays a key role in most metabolic processes, first of all detoxification. It neutralizes most of the toxic substances and, in the framework of continuous renewal, it must also neutralize hormones, neurotransmitters, inflammatory chemicals such as histamine and a wide range of waste metabolites. The liver performs the action of detoxification by filtering the blood (thanks to the Kupffer cells of the reticulo-endothelial system) and “crushing” the toxins by means of enzymes (Phase I and II). Half of the circulating blood passes through the liver every minute to be detoxified. The blood from the intestine (through the portal vein) contains bacteria, bacterial endotoxins, antigen-antibody complexes and other toxic substances. For good detoxification, it is therefore useful to support the activity of the liver with plants such as dandelion or milk thistle. These plants are both present in Milk Thistle Liquid Compound.

Moreover, one of the main ways to eliminate modified toxins is bile (and this is why in the formulation the importance of choleretic drugs):

– when the liver is totally busy neutralizing toxins, bile production is affected. Bile salts primarily perform a “cleansing” function useful for emulsifying fats. A poor production of bile affects general nutrition and is reflected in intestinal transit. The first direct consequence will be an increase in constipation with consequent intestinal putrefaction. What’s more, a low production of bile favors a state of acidosis. In fact, when the bile produced is scarce, it is more difficult to neutralize the gastric acid content;

– when bile excretion is inhibited (as in the case of cholestasis), toxins remain in the liver for too long. Cholestasis can be caused by several factors, particularly the obstruction of the bile ducts, which compromise the correct flow of bile into the liver. The most common cause of bile duct obstruction is the presence of gallstones.

In the presence of a blocked intestinal transit, it can also help the intake of plants such as aloe, cascara or rhubarb: the accumulated toxins must then also be expelled from the body. As we have seen, in Milk Thistle Liquid Compound there are plants that promote liver and biliary function by stimulating an increase in choleresis, causing an increase in bile salts in the intestine, contributing to having a slight laxative effect, and rhubarb has also been chosen.

The kidneys play a large part in this activity of filtering and eliminating substances deriving from the metabolism of the liver. For this reason it is essential to keep the kidneys and urinary tract perfectly efficient by supporting their activity. Poor supply of liquids combined with excessive consumption of sodium and animal proteins in the long run tires the kidneys. Most plant-based drugs also have a mild diuretic action.

New and ancient herbal remedy for digestion: considerations

Milk Thistle Liquid Compound is a supplement that can promote the physiological digestive and intestinal functions it contains. We recommend taking 5 ml to be diluted in a little water or other drink after the main meals and not to exceed the recommended dose. It is recommended to shake before use. Contains licorice, so excessive consumption should be avoided in the case of hypertension.

However, it has an alcohol content of 25 ° (but consider that for the intake already a little is diluted) and this is why today, with new technologies that allow extractions of active ingredients without alcohol, these ancient recipes, as well as for the enolites and other herbal preparations of past times that exploited the potential of alcohol as an artisanal extraction method, they fell a little in disuse even if they were effective. Containing alcohol Milk Thistle Liquid Compound is obviously not for alcoholics, for those with inflamed liver, for pregnant and lactating women, or for children. It is for this reason that in Milk Thistle Liquid Compound we also offer alternatives in our herbalist’s shop, such as Depurativo Italicodepurative that contains milk thistle, dandelion and tamarind extract in water, or the timeless Aloe Master juice Active certificate or Aloe Master Active Ginger and Lemon (one more purifying action, the other more digestive).

Dr. Laura Comollo

For any clarification or for more information Contact us.

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