Osteoporosis is a progressive disease of the skeleton characterised by bone fragility due to a reduction in bone mass and possibly to alteration in bone architecture that lead to a propensity to fracture with minimum trauma. Most osteoporotic fractures occur at locations rich in trabecular or cancellous bone and usually related to post-menopausal women. Recently, silymarin received attention due to its alternative beneficial effect on bone formation. It is a mixture of flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties. This review focuses on the use of milk thistle or silymarin for the treatment of osteoporosis that may be related to fracture bone. Silymarin shows potent antioxidant herb that may modulate multiple genes in favour of helping to build bone and prevent bone loss. In the mouse fracture healing model, silymarin supplementation improved tibial healing with elevated BMD and serum levels of ALP and osteocalcin. Silymarin also demonstrated clear estrogenic antiosteoporotic effects in bone structure. Silymarin appears to play a crucial role to prevent bone loss and might regulate osteogenesis and may be beneficial for fracture healing. If silymarin is considered for the use of post-menopausal women, it may be used for the treatment of osteoporosis. It would be of great benefit to postmenopausal women to develop an oestrogen antagonist that is as potent and efficacious as oestrogen in preventing bone loss without the major side effect associated with HRT.
Curr Drug Targets. 2013 Dec;14(14):1659-66.