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January 10, 2013

Test Tubes With Chemical Compounds

These test tubes contain chemical compounds that researchers have extracted from milk thistle using different liquids such as water or ethanol. The purpose was to determine which solvent is most effective in extracting compounds from pills, powders, seeds and other plant material.

Milk thistle contains compounds called silymarin. Research has shown that silymarin have beneficial effects in the treatment of liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, and may possibly help suppress the growth of some cancers. Because of this, milk thistle is commonly used in nutraceuticals--foods or parts of foods that provide medical or health benefits including the prevention or treatment of disease.

While researchers may identify and characterize an active ingredient in a plant, the trick is how to extract it without destroying its usefulness. Researchers in fields like biological engineering continue to seek new and better extraction techniques for nutraceuticals. (Year of image: 2002)

Credit: ©2002 University Relations, University of Arkansas

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