Milk Thistle With its large purple flower heads, milk thistle is a member of the sunflower family. Native to the Mediterranean, it now grows wild in many other parts of Europe including the UK. Milk thistle has a long tradition and reputation for helping liver problems. The great 18th-century herbalist Culpepper noted that it can be used ‘to open the obstructions of the liver and spleen’. Milk Thistle herbal remedies can be used for indigestion, upset stomach and overindulgence.