New Simple Way to Detoxify the Liver

Willem Mulder
Willem Mulder

After the moulting and breeding season are over, a cure is often given to cleanse the pigeon’s system, improving the blood values, and detoxifying the liver. All kinds of products are available, but it is questionable to what extent they depollute the pigeon. Some of the products used themselves have substances in them that are not natural. Is there no other option? A purely natural way?

Purely natural

Yes, of course there is, I began thinking about it, after reading an article by a pigeon veterinarian, who had written for a magazine. In his article, Maria Thistle (Silybum marianum also known as Milk thistle) seed was mentioned. To be honest, I had not given much thought to this seed, because it is very seldom added to feed mixes. So, it had escaped my attention. Today, the percentages occurring in feeds are minimal and do not offer much if anything at all when it comes to detoxifying the liver. Yes, the pigeon doctor is correct. Anyone who thinks that the 1% or 2% in a feed mix, will soon find out, these amounts are insufficient. So, I began to investigate, and this led me into the world of science.

And what did I find

The Maria thistle, also known as Milk thistle, is native to Asia and southern Europe. Nowadays, it can be found almost everywhere. The plant blooms annually or once every two years depending on the region. Because of its beautiful purple flowers and marble live veined leaves, you can also often find it in herb and botanical gardens.

In the literature, the Marian thistle is described as  a curative plant. It has been used as a medicinal plant for many conditions for over 2000 years. Especially for detoxifying, cleansing, and unclogging  the liver, the gallbladder, the spleen, and the kidneys. Monks in particular have written on this plant. As a result, a lot of the information has been preserved. Later, the renowned German doctor Gottfried Rademacher (1772-1850) gave his patients an ethanol extract of the seeds for liver and spleen disorders. The extract soon became extremely popular and was named “Rademacher’s Tincture.”

Marian thistle info

Reading, recent studies and research on the effectiveness and functioning of medicinal plants like Maria Thistle, it quickly became clear how the research results fit seamlessly with the age-old and traditional customs and applications. Maria Thistle has a great reputation for its effectiveness in many liver and bile disorders and poisonings. This was the starting point for most of the scientific research. The active ingredients and the mechanism of action are now known. Therefore, the thistle was tested and used in many ailments. It worked particularly well in cases where  high amounts of alcohol were consumed.  When the thistle was used, the blood values of the liver enzymes normalized. A Thistle extract also protects the liver, with prolonged use of antidepressants, also then the afore mentioned blood values normalized. So much for some quotes from the Scientific Foundation for Health.

Liver protection

The active substances that detoxify the liver are encapsulated in a group of substances called Silymarin. Within this group, Silybin is the most beneficial, active ingredient. In scientific research for humans, we use values of 300mg to 600mg of Silymarin per day, depending on the disorder for which it is used. For example, the active ingredient (Silymarin) can be used to protect the liver from damage due to chemicals, drug poisoning, inflammations in the liver, liver disease etc.


The active substance Silymarin derived from the Maria Thistle seed increases the amount of glutathione by up to 50%. Glutathione is our body’s most powerful antioxidant. In addition, Silymarin increases the level of Superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the red blood cells and lymphocytes.
SOD also neutralizes free radicals according to scientific research.

The first pigeon tests: Lots of down

I could not find any scientific research, using the active ingredients in the Maria thistle, done on our pigeons. So, we first had to adjust the percentages used for our pigeons to carry out our tests. The metabolism of the pigeon is vastly different from that of humans. For the conversion from human dosage to one that would be right for the pigeon, I used a calculation formula, which gave an equivalent dosage of Silymarin.

This amounted to  a lot of Marian Thistle seed. After Paddy, the Maria Thistle seed has the highest amount in this new mix.

The tests were carried out over 7 days, at various lofts in the Netherlands and Germany. A longer test is not required or justified. Why not? The liver does this work naturally. The liver signals the brain that this detoxifying substance is at sufficient levels and then stops production of the substance. I was sceptic on the value of this seed. But there is only one way of learning, you must be willing to try.  

Feed today, results tomorrow

The birds in  the test lofts were fed ±30 grams per day of the test mix. It turned into an instant success. Immediately the following day there were visible results. The droppings had become noticeably smaller and dry, and a striking amount of down was dropped each day, right to the last day of the test. The pigeons responded perfectly. They were lively and alert.

The only disadvantage of the high percentage of the Maria thistle in the mix is that it is high in Omega 6 and has no Omega 3 (535:1). To bring that back into balance, I added a lot of Perilla seed. Due to the remarkably high percentage of Omega 3 in the Perilla seeds, the mixture ended up with 2.4 Omega 6- and 1-part Omega 3 (2.4:1), a very favourable ratio between them. In addition to the clean liver, the pigeons had smooth feathering and a nice pink, scale free breast.

How and when to use

This new Detox mix can be used, especially a course of 5 to 7 days, after the moult, and breeding period, and just before the racing season. In addition, during the racing season for 1 day to a maximum of 2 days, if you had to use medication, or if you use too many by-products and the pigeons lose form.   

You certainly will not need much; a small bag of the Detox mix should be enough for an entire racing season.

Good luck