The name of the article by British wine writer Jancis Robinson is titled "Milk thistle - the Drinker's Friend" which does sound a wee bit like an idea from another era, a less politically correct era that could give birth to a book entitled like Everyday Drinking. Do we really call ourselves "drinkers" anymore? Well, the article is already nine years old. Maybe the times have changed that much already. But it is a good read and a handy bit of advice:
...before going into the pharmacology, I should make it clear that I didn't actually taste all 272 of the ports from 1900 to the present day that were on offer at Oporto's luscious celebration of a century of vintage port. Usually I start to feel a bit headachy just smelling this stuff - after all, it's been locked up in a bottle with all its youthful impurities. But, thanks to milk thistle, I tasted more than 50 vintage ports and felt absolutely fine afterwards - walked round the town in the blazing sunshine, went out to dinner that night with a keen appetite and a decent thirst, all that sort of thing. Well, I had a little sleep in between, but I felt really clear-headed and not at all what Edmund Penning-Rowsell calls 'jaded'. Now, this milk thistle stuff. It's a herbal dietary supplement that is supposed to make the liver process toxins more efficiently, and has certainly worked for me over the last few years. Based on the milk thistle plant, Silybum marianum, its particular mix of flavonoids is known as Silymarin and most capsules or pills, usually made in Germany but sold around the world in chemists and health food stores, contain about 60mg of what is thought to be the most active ingredient, silybin.
When I was a kid, I was in hospital for a week or two enjoying all sorts of needles, x-rays, prodding and pokings as the rural Canadian medical fraternity tried to figure out what was up with my liver. Apparently a handful of kids in my school got the same mystery thing at the same time. Well, it all went away but I have always been careful with what dietary assistance I can give your innards even if my bigness makes me look like a cross between a former semi-pro offensive lineman and a washed up Viking. In particular, I guzzle olive oil, I like tinned sardines on toast and take daily fish pills all with good effect. I privately suspect my personal muktuk would go rather well with tartar sauce. But a couple of years ago the doctor recommended adding milk thistle. Magic and just as Jancis describes. Vim and vigour aplenty. Yet she missed one thing. Maybe it's the combination of fish oil and this herb but ramping up your liver can leave you smelling like a wharf at low tide. Warn your friends.
That aside, it's a real asset for even the moderate and periodic amateur. Anyone else familiar with it?