Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), a flowering plant of the daisy family, has been used for over 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for different diseases including liver, kidney, and gall bladder problems. This treatment is native to the Mediterranean areas of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East but this plant can now be found all over the world. It usually grows in dry and sunny places.

What does it look like?

Milk thistle is not really milky and white; in fact, its flower is actually colored red purple. This type of thistle derived its name from the milky white juice that is extracted from its leaves when they are crushed. It has spiny stems that branch at the top and can grow from 5 – 10 feet. Its leaves are large, toothed, and waxy-lobed. Its leaves also contain white splotches (another reason why it got its name). This plant spreads and matures quickly. To some people in some parts of the world, these are considered weeds.

What are the health benefits of milk thistle?

For so many years, milk thistle has been used to aid liver problems as it contains the substance called silymarin – an active ingredient that protects the liver. This substance can also destroy free radicals in the body. Removing free radicals from the body can slow down the process of aging. There are also antioxidants present in the thistle that help in the metabolic process and improve digestion. These antioxidants stimulate the production of bile in the gall bladder to help maintain a healthy digestive system. The above-mentioned health benefits of the plant are only some of its curative abilities that have been known through time. Further researches to discover its other potential healing capacity are going on.

Can milk thistle treat gout?

Over the years, this technique has been known to treat and prevent liver problems. Recently, much has been said about its ability for gout treatment. Before going through further discussions about the treatment, let us first know what gout is. Gout is a disease, which results from the abnormal metabolism of uric acid. As a result, the body produces too much uric acid or the body may have problems in removing it. People with gout experience recurrent attacks of inflammatory arthritis characterized by swollen joints. Most of the time, the metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the toe is affected.

Although some people open the possibility of this technique as a gout treatment, there are no sufficient scientific evidences to support this claim. This treatment has no anti-inflammatory or uric-acid lowering substances, so medical researchers believe that it cannot most likely ease the condition of gout.

Because gout patients experience intense pain, they insist on some gout treatment, even though these are not proven to be very effective. Milk thistle as gout treatment is a common misconception because this type of treatment cannot absorb uric acid. Instead of considering the vague thought of this plant as a gout treatment, gout patients should focus more on understanding the nature of the disease and finding tangible and realistic solutions to the problem.