Blessed Thistle as an Herb

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Cnicus benedictus

Note: Blessed thistle should not be mistaken for milk thistle (Silybum marianus) or other members of the thistle family.

The thistle comes from southern Europe but is cultivated in other regions of the continent. The plant has a strong and bitter taste.

Blessed thistle plant

The plant was widely cultivated in the Middle Ages in Europe. Its medicinal use was mentioned by Shakespeare in his play Much Ado About Nothing and was prominent in many of the herbals of the period.

The German Commission E approved Blessed thistle for treatment of dyspepsia and loss of appetite.

Thistle is the old English name for a large family of plants chiefly found in Europe and Asia, of which there are fourteen species in Great Britain:

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  1. Holy Thistle
  2. Milk Thistle
  3. Scotch Thistle
  4. Dwarf Thistle
  5. Creeping Plume Thistle
  6. Welted Thistle
  7. Woolly-Headed Thistle
  8. Melancholy Thistle
  9. Spear Thistle
  10. Musk Thistle
  11. Marsh Plume Thistle
  12. Carline Thistle
  13. Common Star Thistle
  14. Yellow Star Thistle

Medicinal Uses of Blessed Thistle

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Blessed Thistle# (or Holy) is a thistle that has been cultivated for several centuries in Britain for its medicinal use. It is said to have obtained its name from its high reputation as a heal-all, even able to cure the plague. The whole herb is used.

The plant was at one time supposed to be a cure for fevers of all kinds. A warm infusion of 1 ounce of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water was standard use.

Blessed Thistle is used for strengthening the heart, circulation of the blood, and is useful in all remedies for lung, kidney, and especially liver problems.

Blessed Thistle is also used as a brain food to help stimulate one's memory.

Some people soak gauze in blessed thistle and apply it to the skin for treating boils, wounds, and ulcers. It is also used as a diuretic for increasing urine output.

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For women, blessed thistle is used in remedies for menopause and for menstrual cramping.

This herb is also often used by lactating women to stimulate blood flow to the mammary glands and to increase the flow of milk. It is considered one of the best medicines for this purpose.

Dried blessed thistle

Blessed Thistle was once believed to strengthen the emotions and as such was often used for melancholy, agitation and nervous disorders.

The leaves, dried and powdered, are good for worms.

Four different ways of using Blessed Thistle have been recommended for ingestion:

  1. It may be eaten in the green leaf, with bread and butter for breakfast, like watercress
  2. The dried leaves may be made into a powder and a drachm taken in wine or other beverage every day
  3. A wine glass of the juice may be taken every day
  4. The usual and the best method: An infusion may be made of the dried herb, taken any time as a preventive, or when intended to remove disease, at bed time.

Culinary Uses of Blessed Thistle

The most common form of ingestion for culinary purposes is through tea. Generally Blessed Thistle has been used in bitter tonic drinks and in other preparations taken by mouth to enhance appetite and digestion. Usage in and with foods is not recommended.

Cautions

Not to be used during pregnancy.

Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. The herb exhibits a strong potential for sensitization (cross- reactions with mugwort and cornflower, among others); however, allergic reactions have rarely been seen.

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