Is Milk Thistle Good For Kidneys

Is Milk Thistle Good For Kidneys?

Milk thistle is a widely used plant in traditional medicine, increasingly known for its health benefits. With abundant vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, milk thistle benefits the liver and gallbladder and offers many advantages for kidney health. What are its clear effects? This article will explore them while providing the necessary considerations when using this herbal remedy.


Key Takeaways

  • Milk thistle, belonging to the daisy family, originates from the Mediterranean and is commonly used to treat liver and gallbladder conditions.
  • For the kidneys, milk thistle aids in reducing inflammation, antioxidant protection, cell regeneration, and preventing toxin damage.
  • While research on milk thistle's benefits for kidneys is limited, based on its mechanisms of action on the liver and gallbladder, its potential for kidney health is evident.

Is Milk Thistle Good For Kidneys?

Milk thistle is a solution for kidney health issues.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herbaceous plant containing Silymarin, a complex of flavonolignans including silybin, silydianin, and silychristin. Extensively studied, this compound exhibits antioxidant properties, protects cells from inflammation, and counteracts harmful toxins, particularly benefiting the liver and kidneys [1].

A study conducted on broiler chickens in 2020 showed promising results when supplementing 10g/kg, 20g/kg, and 40g/kg of milk thistle seed powder into their diets for three weeks.

Experts noted that milk thistle seeds did not affect growth performance but could provide protection and improve liver and kidney function in broiler chickens [2].

Note that although current studies support the effects of milk thistle on the kidneys, most of these studies have been conducted on animal models, and human clinical trials are needed to determine the safety level of this herbal remedy accurately.

What Are The Milk Thistle Benefits For Kidneys?

Reduce Inflammation

Milk Thistle may Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can damage tissue and pave the way for kidney diseases. Silymarin in milk thistle acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting the production of cytokines and mitigating kidney inflammation [3].

Protect Against Oxidative Stress

Milk thistle possesses potent antioxidant properties, thwarting the harmful effects of toxins on kidney function. Its primary compound, Silymarin, enhances the activity of antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), safeguarding the kidneys from oxidative stress [4].

Does Milk Thistle Help Kidney Function

Does Milk Thistle Help Kidney Function

Silymarin in milk thistle is also believed to aid in cell regeneration and support kidney cell function.

Silymarin concentrates on repairing and regenerating kidney cells by enhancing protein and nucleic acid synthesis. A study indicated a 25 to 30% increase in cell proliferation related to silybin and silychristin, two vital components of Silymarin.

Research has demonstrated the beneficial effects of Silymarin on diabetic kidney disease [5] [6].

Counteract Harmful Substances in the Kidneys

Silymarin inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation, which can damage kidney cells. Additionally, it enhances the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the kidneys, aiding in eliminating harmful substances from medications, alcohol, and other toxins from the body [7].

Research On Milk Thistle And Kidney Health

Studies On Milk Thistle And Kidney Disease

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is widely used in Europe for liver health, kidney, and gallbladder issues.

Although research on the effectiveness of milk thistle for kidney disease remains limited, studies have shown its metabolic clearance rate and tolerance in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Results indicate good compound absorption in individuals with chronic kidney disease and effective antioxidative function in this group [8].

Another study conducted on quails showed that milk thistle is a supplementary substance containing the antioxidant compound silymarin.

Milk thistle's antioxidant properties aid in reducing inflammation, preventing liver and kidney toxicity, improving health status, and improving the quality of quails [9].

Is Milk Thistle Good For Kidney Stones?

There is insufficient scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of milk thistle in treating kidney stones.

While some small studies suggest that milk thistle may help reduce the risk of gallstones and improve some symptoms of kidney disease, research on kidney stone treatment is limited and requires further investigation for confirmation.

Milk Thistle And Chronic Kidney Disease

Milk Thistle And Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease severely affects the body's blood-filtering function, causing anemia and immune system suppression,...

Milk thistle contains nutrients that benefit this condition. In a report published in 2007, milk thistle was among the herbal remedies that could alleviate chronic kidney disease and improve the body's blood filtering function [10].

Additionally, Silymarin extracted from the polyphenolic compounds found in milk thistle has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and paracetamol-induced kidney toxicity properties [11]. This brings numerous benefits to patients with chronic kidney disease.

Is Milk Thistle Bad For Kidneys?

Currently, there is no research indicating the toxicity of milk thistle to the kidneys. However, studies on this herb mostly emphasize its benefits for the liver and gallbladder. At the same time, its beneficial effects on the kidneys are still limited and require further analysis.

Remember to consult a specialist before using any dietary supplements for kidney-related conditions or chronic kidney disease, especially when supplementing milk thistle.

Other Herbs For Kidney Health

In addition to milk thistle, other herbs believed to benefit kidney health include:

  • Giloy: This herb has antioxidant properties, destroys free radicals produced during aflatoxicosis poisoning, and reduces kidney damage.
  • Turmeric: Helps increase serum protein, reduces urea and creatinine levels in serum, beneficial for kidney function.
  • Ginger: Anti-inflammatory, helps reduce swelling and pain caused by kidney infections.
  • Amalaki, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki: Strengthen kidney tissues, supplement serum protein, and enhance kidney function.


Milk thistle contains numerous nutrients and vitamins that may offer many health benefits; however, its use should also be approached with caution. Individuals with kidney issues should consult a doctor before using milk thistle to ensure safety. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand more about the benefits of milk thistle for kidney health and discover another beneficial herbal remedy for health.


[1] Wang, Xin, et al. "Health Benefits of Silybum Marianum: Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 68, no. 42, 13 Oct. 2020, pp. 11644–11664,
[2] mohammad Alkatib, Samera . "EFFECT of MILK THISTLE (SILYBUM MARIANUM) SEEDS on LIVER and KIDNEY FUNCTIONS and BODY WEIGHT in BROILER CHICKENS." Researchgate, Accessed 11 June 2024.
[3] Lovelace, Erica S., et al. "Silymarin Suppresses Cellular Inflammation by Inducing Reparative Stress Signaling." Journal of Natural Products, vol. 78, no. 8, 17 July 2015, pp. 1990–2000,
[4] Surai, Peter. "Silymarin as a Natural Antioxidant: An Overview of the Current Evidence and Perspectives." Antioxidants, vol. 4, no. 1, 20 Mar. 2015, pp. 204–247,
[5] Brantley, Scott J., et al. "Two Flavonolignans from Milk Thistle (Silybum Marianum) Inhibit CYP2C9-Mediated Warfarin Metabolism at Clinically Achievable Concentrations." Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, vol. 332, no. 3, 24 Nov. 2009, pp. 1081–1087,
[6] Vessal, Ghazal, et al. "Silymarin and Milk Thistle Extract May Prevent the Progression of Diabetic Nephropathy in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats." Renal Failure, vol. 32, no. 6, 12 June 2010, pp. 733–739, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.
[7] Abenavoli, Ludovico, et al. "Milk Thistle in Liver Diseases: Past, Present, Future." Phytotherapy Research, vol. 24, no. 10, 7 June 2010, pp. 1423–1432,
[8] NATH, SUBRATA, et al. "Metabolic Clearance and Tolerance of Milk Thistle Flavonolignans in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients." ˜the œFASEB Journal, vol. 24, no. S1, 1 Apr. 2010, Accessed 11 June 2024.
[9] Ghazaghi, Mahmoud, et al. "Regression-Derived Optimal Milk Thistle in Growing Quail's Diet." Poultry Science, vol. 103, no. 3, 1 Mar. 2024, p. 103465,, Accessed 11 June 2024.
[10] Yarnell, Eric, and Kathy Abascal. "Herbs for Relieving Chronic Renal Failure." Alternative and Complementary Therapies, vol. 13, no. 1, Feb. 2007, pp. 18–23,
[11] Abed , Noor. "The Protective Effect of Milk Thistle against Drug-Induced Renal Illnesses: A Review." Iraqi Journal of Pharmacy, The Protective Effect of Milk Thistle Against Drug-Induced Renal Illnesses: A Review. Accessed 11 June 2024.
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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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