Background: The plant milk thistle and silymarin has been traditionally used as a natural
remedy for the treatment of various ailments including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and
Parkinson's disease and cerebral ischemia for over 2000 years.
Objective: In this article we review the neuroprotective effects of silymarin against various neurological
Results: The neuroprotective effects conferred by silymarin include modulation of various antioxidant
mechanisms, and several kinases involved in cell signaling pathways, inhibition of the inflammatory
response generated during neurodegeneration, neurotropic effects, regulation of neurotransmitters and
inhibition of apoptosis. The ease of availability, comparative low cost and safety profile provide additional
advantages for the use of this compound as a potent drug with immense clinical benefit. However,
there is a growing need for improvements in the bioavailability of silymarin and related products,
and more consistent and reliable human trials are required to accurately validate the neuroprotective
efficacy of this natural compound.
Conclusion: The promising outcomes of the studies mentioned in this review provide renewed insight
into the clinical relevance of silymarin in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders where neuroinflammation
and oxidative stress are pathologically relevant to disease progression.