Milk Thistle Does Help in Passing a Urine Drug Test: How-to Guide and Scientific Evidence

Milk thistle is said to have numerous protective effects on the liver and can, therefore, improve its functions. The stoning community seems to have found another use of these pills though; passing a urine drug test.

While the milk thistle method has more detractors than supporters, there is some sense in passing a urine drug test using it. And I am here to bring you the basics of why and how it works, and the scientific clarification for that.

What is milk thistle

In its natural form, milk thistle (also known as Silybum marianum, Mary thistle or holy thistle) is a flowering herb and a native to Mediterranean countries.

Related to the ragweed and daisy family, milk thistle features distinctive flowers and white veins. The white veins are traditionally thought to have been caused when a drop of milk from Virgin Mary fell onto the leaves.

Milk thistle has been reported to have lots of protective effects on several organs and systems in the body. For instance, it is said to protect the heart by lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Several scientific explorations also suggest that it improves insulin resistance and can, therefore, help control type 2 diabetes.

However, this prickly plant is often promoted for its incredible effects on the liver and its perceived ability to greatly improve its functions.

Milk thistle is regularly recommended as a complementary therapy for people suffering from damaged liver caused by conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, liver cancer, and hepatitis.

It’s also typically used to treat several liver-related illnesses including liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, liver damage, and gallbladder disorder.

Also, extracts from this magical plant have been known to protect the liver from Amatoxin- a deadly toxin from the ‘death cap’ mushroom and which is known to cause severe liver damage when ingested.

Mind you, and it’s these numerous effects on the liver that make Mary thistle a remedy for passing a urine drug test.

How Can Milk Thistle Help to Pass a Urine Drug Test

Having gone through my proposed method of using Holy Thistle to pass a test, you could ask, ‘‘isn’t this simply the dilution method?’’

Sure, the milk thistle method involves consuming a lot of water. And this helps in cutting the concentration of THC metabolites in your urine sample which increases your chances of beating the test even further.

However, milk thistle also does play another important role here.

Milk thistle features a group of active ingredients that are collectively called silymarin. Milk thistle extracts usually have concentrations of between 65% and 80% of these active ingredients.

These ingredients have been found to inhibit the activity of drug metabolizing enzymes found in the liver namely the CYP (cytochrome P450) and the UGT (Uridine diphosphoglucuronosyl Transferase) enzymes.

Understanding the CYP and UGT enzymes

The CYP and UGT enzymes are the primary enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of cannabinoids. As I have illustrated in another article, THC is metabolized in 2 main stages.

Phase 1 of this process involves the oxidation of the Active THC to its active metabolites 11-OH-THC and later to the inactive THC-COOH. This process is done by the CYP enzymes.

The UGT enzymes take over the second phase which is also called the glucuronidation process. As this name suggests, this phase involves adding a glucuronide molecule to the inactive THC-COOH metabolite.

The end product of the glucuronidation process is THC-COO-glucuronide. Importantly, the glucuronide suffix indicates that these metabolites are ready for excretion either through urine or bile juice.

What happens when silymarin inhibits the activity of the enzymes?

By inhibiting the activity of the CYP enzymes, silymarin decreases the rate of THC metabolism. Secondly, by inhibiting the activity of the UGT enzymes, the glucuronidation process is also slowed. This means that there will be fewer THC-COO-glucuronide metabolites released for excretion through urine.

What does this mean? You guessed right. It means that there will be fewer THC-COOH metabolites in your urine. If the level of THC-COOH metabolites in urine is lower than the cut-off, you’ll have PASSED the test.

But wait. Is there any evidence that silymarin does inhibit the activity of the drug-metabolizing enzymes in humans?

I figured out that you would ask this question. So, I dug around and came across several studies that have been carried out around this topic.

Here is what I got.

Milk Thistle inhibits CYP and UGT Enzymes: Scientific Evidence

Silymarin has for long been hypothesized to hamper the activity of the CYP enzymes in rats as well as impairing the glucuronidation process in the liver.

In this light, and considering that the liver is responsible for the metabolism of drugs, a study published in the Journal of American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics wanted to investigate whether silymarin has any interactions with co-administered drugs.

It also aimed at understanding whether silymarin does inhibit the performance of the enzymes that are involved in drug metabolism in the liver.

The results were pretty much how they expected.

In this study, the researchers plated hepatocytes obtained from human donor liver on six plates that had been coated with rat-tail collagen.

Next, some of these specimens were untreated; others were acute silymarin treated (0.1 mM), while the rest were chronic silymarin treated (treated with 0.25 mM silymarin).

The researchers went ahead and examined the activity of CYP3A4 enzymes in the hepatocytes by measuring the formation of the 6-beta(OH) testosterone in both the untreated and the silymarin treated cultures.

The results were as illustrated in the figure below.

diagram1

As these results show, the activity of the CYP3A4 enzymes was much higher in the untreated culture, slightly lower in the 0.1 mM silymarin treated culture, and almost insignificant in the 0.25 mM treated culture.

The researchers then went ahead and accessed the activity of UGT enzymes by measuring the formation of 4-MUG ( 4-methylumbelliferone glucuronide).

According to the results in the figure below, the untreated cells formed 4-MUG at the rate of 0.35 nmol/min/mg of protein. Cells treated with Phenobarbital (PB) had a slightly higher formation. On the other hand, cultures treated with 0.1 mM silymarin concentration had a notably lower MUG formation. The formation was even much lower in the 0.25 mM silymarin treated culture.

Using Milk Thistle to Pass a Urine Drug Test

What you’ll need

  • Milk thistle extract pills – you could get these from Amazon. While there isn’t any brand that is known to work better than others, it’s important that you consider a milk thistle supplement with the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) logo. This is a guarantee that the pills have been manufactured to high quality and purity standards.

Also, go for a brand that uses at least 80% silymarin in every pill. Most manufacturers will state the percentage in the ingredients list.

  • Vitamin B2 – as you’ll find out, this method does involve consuming a lot of water. In that case, there is a risk of your urine sample appearing diluted and raising suspicion. Therefore, you’ll need vitamin B2 pills to eliminate the risk of discolored urine.
  • Time – you’ll need at least 24 hours. The more time you have, the higher the chances of beating the test though.
  • THC Test strips- whether you have several days to the test or just a day, THC Test strips will keep you posted on whether the method is working. You’ll find these strips in about any drug store or from Amazon.

Method

Step 1:

Abstain from the drugs at least until you are through the test – I bet did not have to mention this, but the last thing that you want to do when trying to skirt a test is to add more drugs into your system.

Step 2: Start drinking a lot of water

The moment you are alerted of a possible urine drug test, start drinking water and peeing whenever you feel the urge to. If you have a day, ensure that you finish at least 1 gallon of water spread evenly. The essence of this is to remove as much THC metabolites from the body as possible.

Step 3: Take 2-3 Milk Thistle pills per day with meals

Take a milk thistle pill with every meal totaling 3 pills each day. Most of these pills have milk thistle extract in the 150 -175mg range. The clinically proven dosage of this supplement is 420mg spread evenly across the day and consumed 2-3 times.

This means that if you have less than a day to the test, you could ingest 2 pills at once without putting your life on the line.

Step 4: Test yourself regularly

Depending on the amount of time that you have to the test, it’s important that you keep testing yourself to determine whether the method is working. Testing strips that give you an approximate value of the level of THC concentration in your urine make it easy to decide whether or not to change the dose of water and pills.

Step 5: On the day of the test

Depending on the time that you are scheduled to take the test, wake up early to start your daily cleansing regimen. Start taking that day’s gallon of water plus a milk thistle tablet. Note that you don’t really need to change your morning routine.

2 hours to the test, swallow another milk thistle pill plus the vitamin B2 pill and continue drinking the remaining part of the gallon of water.

Conclusion

As these results demonstrate, taking a few pills of Holy thistle does inhibit the speed of the liver to metabolize THC into THC-COOH metabolites that the lab’s test for. This means that it can actually help in passing a urine drug test.

However, as you may have noted, this is technically a 2-in-1 method of passing a urine drug test. It involves minimizing the creation and release of THC-COOH metabolites in urine as well as diluting the little amounts of these metabolites that may be present in the urine.

In my opinion, this not only increases your chances of beating the test by 2 folds, but it also makes it easy for everyone to pass a test even on short notice.

Remember that over-diluting your urine can land you in trouble though. This happens when you consume a lot of water without minding certain important urine values such as the creatinine and the specific gravity levels.

That being said, if you really want to pass a urine test using the milk thistle method, I would recommend that you leaf through my other guide on how to dilute your urine with water in this other guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Milk thistle method involves drinking copious amounts of water, isn’t it simply the dilution method?

The water in this method boosts your chances of beating the test by diluting any available THC-COOH metabolites in the urine to below the cut-off levels. However, silymarin (the active ingredients in Mary thistle), work by minimizing the speed at which the CYP and the UGT enzymes in the liver metabolize THC to THC-COOH and THC-COOH to THC-COO-glucuronide respectively.

Does milk thistle help in detoxing cannabis?

Although milk thistle minimizes the number of THC metabolites available for detection in the urine, remember that it does not boost detoxification. In any case, it does the opposite.

The fact that it negatively affects the way the CYP and UGT enzymes remove THC from the body means that it will prolong the detoxification process.

Will exercising before the test make it hard to pass using the Milk thistle method?

There is an ongoing rumor that exercising before the test could make it hard for you to pass a urine test. Technically, there is some sense in this claim. THC is highly lipophilic, i.e., highly soluble in fat. As you exercise, the fat-stored THC is released into the plasma as the fat cells get burned for energy.

Worth mentioning, however, is that what is released are the THC molecules, not the THC-COOH which labs test for.

Also, studies show that the increased levels of THC in the blood plasma only lasts for 2 hours. So, NO, exercising won’t ahead of a test won’t affect the results of a urine drug test immediately.

Read more about this myth in my other article on working out to pass a drug test here.

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Milk Thistle Does Help in Passing a Urine Drug Test: How-to Guide and Scientific Evidence
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  • Updated January 15, 2019
Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller
 

Hey there! I'm Daniel, a Ph.D. in pharmacology and a member of THC Detox. My research into cannabis shows how cannabis affects health, including how cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of various diseases. I've got a long list of scientific and medical publications that show the positive effects of cannabis clearly.

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