The festive season is almost upon us, but before you embark on mince pies, mulled wine and plenty of late nights, spare a thought for how your body is going to handle all the indulgence. 

Our livers are put under tremendous pressure during the Christmas holidays as we eat and drink to near excess as part of all the merriment. But instead of denying yourself of all the mince pies and hot toddies, we suggest preparing your body with a bit of milk thistle. 

Recent research into milk thistle has found that it not only helps beat liver problems such as cirrhosis and gallstones, but it can provide heart health benefits by lowering cholesterol. Also, links between the herb and the reduced growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical and prostate cancers have all been identified in past studies. 

Thanks to milk thistle's main active ingredient silymarin - which is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant - it makes sense to stock up before the festivities begin this year. 

And it's not just benefiting us on the inside either -  milk thistle can help improve your skin too. 

The cold weather combined with dry central heating can take its toll on our skin during the winter months and that's not even mentioning how alcohol can affect it. Our liver is responsible for processing any of the toxins that have built up in our bodies, which could present itself as blemishes or dry skin our faces. So if you want to have a clear and glowing complexion into the new year, now's the time to be taking milk thistle. 

What's more, milk thistle can even help prevent putting on those extra Christmas pounds this year. Because the liver is responsible for purifying blood and metabolising the fat carried around in the body, having a liver that is working at 'full power' means that it can metabolise fat faster. And help us shed those unwanted pounds faster once the new year fitness regime starts.