Silymarin refers to flavonolignans, the condensation of class A dihydroflavonol and phenylpropanoids derivatives extracted from the fruit and seed of silybum marinaum(L) Gaenrt which is a kind of herb compositae. Presently, silymarin (its brand name includes Legalon, Liver Aid and Milk Thistle) used for preparation contains 80% of the total flavonolignan, which mainly consists of four isomers such as silybin (silibinin), isosilybin (isosilibinin), siliehristin and silidinain. Silybin accounts for the largest proportion with the highest hepatoprotective activity.
The raw material of silymarin is the dry fruit of silybum marianum. The product extracts are usually marked as containing 80% of silymarin. Belonging to folk medicinal plants, it is native to South Europe and North Africa, and its cultivation and use history is as long as thousands of years in Europe and Africa. Silybum marianum is widely used for the treatment of liver diseases and cardiovascular diseases, which is planted in North and Northwest China.
Global markets of silymarin mainly include China, the U.S., Europe, Japan, etc. The export list of silymarin in China did not change greatly in recent 3 years, but its export value increased by nearly one time in 2013. The export value of silymarin reduced by 3% in 2014. Silymarin is one of the hot export products whose price declines significantly. With relatively sufficient supply of silybum marianum, its price of 2014 reduced by 30% compared with that of 2013. Correspondingly, the price of silymarin continued to fall with the decline rate of 14%.