Milk Thistle for OCD and Anxiety

Milk Thistle for OCD and Anxiety: How Much Milk Thistle for OCD?

Using milk thistle for treating OCD and anxiety is an effective natural solution. However, how much milk thistle should be used for treating OCD safely and optimally? A study has shown that a dose of 600 mg/day can be used to treat OCD. Does it mean that using more is better? And how should we use milk thistle? This article will help answer these questions.

Before exploring further, please read the disclaimer located at the end of this webpage.

Key Takeaways

  • Milk thistle helps reduce OCD symptoms.
  • Milk thistle can help alleviate anxiety.
  • 600mg/day is the recommended dose of milk thistle for OCD and anxiety.
  • Milk thistle can be used in various forms, such as capsules, powder, tea, and topical creams.

Is Milk Thistle Good for OCD?

Is Milk Thistle Good for OCD

Studies have shown that milk thistle can help reduce OCD symptoms.

First, let's briefly discuss Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is characterized by unwanted, repetitive thoughts, images, or urges (obsessions) and compulsive behaviors that individuals feel they must perform to alleviate the anxiety caused by these obsessions.

For example, a person might constantly worry about being contaminated by bacteria, leading them to wash their hands dozens of times a day, even when they are not dirty.

Nowadays, people with OCD are gradually turning to natural methods such as CBD, vitamins, cannabis, and milk thistle because these do not have the side effects commonly associated with prescription medications for OCD.

OCD medications often cause many side effects, like sexual problems, drowsiness, dry mouth, weight gain, and insomnia. Nearly 50% of people with OCD have to stop taking prescription drugs due to these side effects, which amounts to about 1 million people [1].

As a result, people have turned to milk thistle. And not disappointing expectations, studies have shown that milk thistle could be a potential natural therapy for OCD.

Furthermore, some studies indicate that milk thistle is as effective as antidepressants for OCD [2].

Does Milk Thistle Help With Anxiety?

Milk thistle is beneficial in reducing anxiety

Milk thistle is beneficial in reducing anxiety.

Anxiety is one of the manifestations of OCD. For example, someone might worry about whether they have locked their house, leading them to check their house multiple times before leaving and even returning several times to check if the door is locked.

Fortunately, milk thistle can also help soothe your anxiety. Research has shown that the main active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, can help with depression and reduce anxiety by regulating neurotransmitter systems, endocrine systems, neurogenesis, and the immune system [4].

Additionally, milk thistle contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce oxidative stress. This is a factor related to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

What are the Benefits of Milk Thistle for OCD and Anxiety?

Preventing or Reducing Oxidative Stress

Milk thistle is highly effective in preventing and reducing oxidative stress.

Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, can neutralize free radicals. These unstable molecules damage cells and lead to oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress can affect the functioning of mood-regulating substances, particularly neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

Studies have also shown that prolonged oxidative stress can lead to conditions such as OCD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Alzheimer's disease [6].

Reducing Brain Inflammation

Research has demonstrated that milk thistle can enhance the immune system's response to infections, including brain inflammation [7].

When brain inflammation is reduced, the body can alleviate a source of stress and stimulate the immune system, helping alleviate some OCD symptoms.

Boosting Immunity

Enhancing the immune system can help improve OCD symptoms because OCD often accompanies anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact the immune system.

A 2016 study also showed that milk thistle could help boost immunity [8]. This contributes to making milk thistle a natural therapy for OCD and anxiety.

Reducing Anxiety Levels

Research has shown that milk thistle can effectively reduce anxiety levels [4].

This study indicates that silymarin and silibinin can help alleviate depression and anxiety by regulating brain activity systems, stimulating the growth of nerve cells, adjusting neurotransmitters, and reducing the formation of harmful substances.
Improving Sleep

Stress, anxiety, and OCD can affect sleep quality. Once anxiety and stress are reduced, you can achieve better sleep.

How Much Milk Thistle for OCD?

A 600 mg/day of milk thistle may be effective in treating OCD

A 600 mg/day of milk thistle is effective in treating OCD.

A study compared the efficacy of milk thistle extract and fluoxetine (a common OCD medication) in treating OCD over 8 weeks.

In this study, 35 patients were randomly divided into two groups: one group received milk thistle extract (600 mg/day), and the other group received fluoxetine (30 mg/day).

The results showed no significant difference in the effectiveness of milk thistle extract and fluoxetine in treating OCD [9]. This indicates that a dosage of 600 mg/day of milk thistle is comparable to 30 mg/day of fluoxetine.

Other studies have shown that at doses of 240–900 mg/day, silymarin does not cause toxicity. However, if used at high doses, over 1500 mg/day, it may cause a laxative effect and increased bile secretion [10].

Some cases have reported potential side effects from using milk thistle, such as excessive sweating, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. If you experience these symptoms severely, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, silymarin is contraindicated for individuals allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family. Therefore, if you are allergic to this family of plants, you should use milk thistle cautiously.

It is important to remember that milk thistle is not a medication and cannot replace medical diagnosis and treatment from a doctor.

How to Use Milk Thistle for OCD and Anxiety

There are several ways to use milk thistle for OCD and anxiety:

  • Powder form: Mix 1 - 2 tablespoons of powder into a smoothie or water for consumption.
  • Tea form: Place a tea bag or a teaspoon of tea in a cup of hot water, steep for 5 minutes, and then enjoy. If you don't have a tea bag, the advice is to strain it once before drinking.
  • Capsule form: The most convenient way to use milk thistle is in capsule form. Capsules are measured and dosed clearly, making them easy to integrate into your daily routine.

Other Herbs for OCD and Anxiety

In addition to milk thistle, several other herbal remedies may help reduce symptoms of OCD and anxiety, including:

  • St. John's Wort: Widely used in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Kava (Piper methysticum): Known for its calming and anxiety-reducing effects.
  • Lavender: Often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take for Milk Thistle To Work for OCD?

The time it takes for milk thistle to be effective may vary depending on the individual, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Combine milk thistle with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise for the best results.

Does Milk Thistle Detox the Brain?

Milk thistle has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help eliminate harmful substances in the brain and improve brain function.


Milk thistle is a natural solution for OCD and anxiety. With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, milk thistle can alleviate OCD symptoms and improve overall health, boosting the body's immune system. However, always remember that milk thistle is not a medication and cannot replace prescribed drugs or specialized diagnoses from a doctor.


  • [1] Medications for OCD. International OCD Foundation. Published December 13, 2023. Accessed June 15, 2024.
  • [2] Sayyah M, Hatam Boostani, Siroos Pakseresht, Alireza Malayeri. Comparison of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. with fluoxetine in the treatment of Obsessive−Compulsive Disorder. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 2010;34(2):362-365. doi:
  • [3] Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: When Unwanted Thoughts or Repetitive Behaviors Take Over. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Published 2018. Accessed June 15, 2024.
  • [4] Sahar Rostamian, Saeid Heidari-Soureshjani, Catherine M.T. Sherwin. The Therapeutic Effect of Silymarin and Silibinin on Depression and Anxiety Disorders and Possible Mechanism in the Brain: A Systematic Review. Central nervous system agents in medicinal chemistry. 2023;23(2):86-94. doi:
  • [5] Kumar J, Park KC, Awasthi A, Prasad B. Silymarin Extends Lifespan and Reduces Proteotoxicity in C. elegans Alzheimer's Model. CNS & neurological disorders Drug targets. 2015;14(2):295-302. doi:
  • [6] Zahra N, Wahid A, Shaukat K, Muhammad Bilal Hafeez, Aaliya Batool, Mirza Hasanuzzaman. Oxidative stress tolerance potential of milk thistle ecotypes after supplementation of different plant growth-promoting agents under salinity. Plant physiology and biochemistry. 2021;166:53-65. doi:
  • [7] Wilasrusmee C;Kittur S;Shah G;Siddiqui J;Bruch D;Wilasrusmee S;Kittur DS. Immunostimulatory effect of Silybum Marianum (milk thistle) extract. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research. 2022;8(11). Accessed June 15, 2024.
  • [8] Dietary but not in ovo feeding of Silybum marianum extract resulted in an improvement in performance, immunity, and carcass characteristics and decreased the adverse effects of high temperatures in broilers. British Poultry Science. Published online 2016. doi:
  • [9] Sayyah M, Hatam Boostani, Siroos Pakseresht, Alireza Malayeri. Comparison of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. with fluoxetine in the treatment of Obsessive−Compulsive Disorder. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 2010;34(2):362-365. doi:
  • [10] Ludovico Abenavoli, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. PTR Phytotherapy research/Phytotherapy research. 2010;24(10):1423-1432. doi:
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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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