Blessed Thistle
Cnicus benedictus

Holy Thistle, Saint Benedict Thistle, Carbenia Benedicta, Spotted Thistle

Traditional Use

Blessed Thistle is said to have obtained its name from its wonderful reputation as a heal all, even purported to cure the plague during the Middle Ages. According to the herbalist Steven Horne, thistles are warrior plants by nature – they are difficult to eradicate, hard to dig up and resistant to herbicides. However, although neither gentle nor friendly, he believes they are there for our benefit. They are edible, making them an outstanding survival food. They tend to grow where the environment has been damaged, keeping animals and people away whilst the land heals, and they have medicinal properties that are primarily associated with the liver – the organ that defends our blood stream against toxins.

Origin

South Europe to west Asia

Parts used

Dried aerial parts and seeds

Constituents

The sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin, provide the main beneficial effects of Blessed Thistle.

Precautions

Although generally safe, Blessed Thistle may cause vomiting and stomach irritation when taken in very large doses. In addition, anyone allergic to plants in the family of Asteraceae should take precaution in taking this herbal treatment.
Not recommended during pregnancy.

Benefits

Liver Protection
Classed as a cholagogue herb, Blessed Thistle stimulates the production of bile which assists in detoxification of the liver. This in turn leads to a decrease in symptoms associated with poor liver function such as; fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and brain fog. This liver supportive herb is often recommended to people who need to regain their appetite when recovering from illness or from certain treatments known to cause loss of appetite.
Anti-Microbial
Two compounds found in Blessed Thistle – polyacetylene and cnicin – can help your body battle bacterial infections. Some studies have shown these compounds to be effective against Bacillus subtilis, Brucella species, Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis.
Stimulates Milk Supply
There is some controversy surrounding this herb’s ability to act a galactagogue (to increase milk supply). However, in a study by Tim Fei Sim et al, it was concluded that the most effective of the herbal galactagogues were Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle taken together. The findings of this study also identified a need for more scientific evaluation of these herbs and provided directions for subsequent research in this field.
Digestive Health
The above mentioned stimulation of bile will in turn stimulate the production of gastric juices and saliva. This allows the body to digest fat more effectively, thus reducing cholesterol and helping to prevent gall stones. Blessed Thistle is also high in sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin – these lactones are reported to stimulate digestive activity by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes which leads to improved digestion and appetite.
Anti-Inflammatory
Blessed Thistle has anti-inflammatory characteristics that have been observed to decrease or completely cease inflammation in addition to helping to remedy infections. This action is again thought to be due to the plant compound cnicin which is known to have anti-inflammatory activity. Nevertheless, persons with inflammatory bowel problems shouldn’t take this herb before getting the opinion of their personal health-care professional.

History-Folklore

According to ancient mythology, when the gods walked the earth they ate Walnuts, hence the Latin name “juglans” is a derivative of the words “jovis glans” which means “Jupiter’s Nut”.

Native American Indians enjoyed the pleasures and health benefits of the Black Walnut well before European explorers arrived. The upper Great Lakes region provides archaeological evidence of walnut consumption dating back to 2000 BC. Along with eating the walnut itself, the Indians used the sap of the walnut tree in their food preparation.  Wherever the Black Walnut grows, there is limestone in the soil – a good sign of fertile soil. The early Pennsylvania Dutch made a point of selecting properties that had a stand of sturdy Black Walnut trees on the land, assuring them of rich soil. 

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