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Herb Spotlight - Blessed Thistle

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Blessed Thistle (Cincus benedictus)

Family: Asteraceae

Part Used: Aerial parts; flowering tops

Flavor/Aroma: Bitter

Energetics: Cooling; Drying


Herbal Actions: 

Diaphoretics, Appetite stimulant, Anti inflammatory,  Emmenagogue, Emetic, Hepatoprotective, Carminative, Antibacterial3

Overview:

Blessed Thistle has been traditionally prepared as a nutritive and gastroprotective tonic, and has been utilized for these health benefits historically in both the Middle East and Europe. This herb has been used to flavor liquor drinks, bitters formulas, and ferments in the United States. There is substantial evidence to support Blessed Thistles ability to increase appetite and digestive fire- or agni in Ayurvedic terms.¹

Botany:

Blessed Thistle grows as an annual weed that thrives in disturbed, rocky soils. It has long, narrow shaped leaves with white veins and prickly spines along each leaf. Blessed Thistle flowers are vibrant yellow, but they start as spikey, green flower heads- similar to artichoke, a cousin of this thistle. 

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Blessed Thistle flowers are best collected when in bloom during the peak summer months and harvested just after the morning dew has passed.  

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Blessed Thistle is easily grown in the Southern Oregon climates, but is native to the Eastern states of this country. Much like other Thistle species, it will spread easily in most soil types, although preferring rockier textures. It can also be identified in the wild and is often referred to as an invasive weed, despite its powerhouse of medicinal benefits.  

History and Folklore:

Ayurvedic Medicine: Blessed Thistle has been used a topical for integumentary support as a cooling remedy. It was used internally as a digestive tonic that increased gastric juices, strengthening the agni- digestive fire, and for immune support. Blessed Thistle was used as a strong detoxifying agent for stimulating elimination through the liver and kidneys.²  

European Medicinal Usage: Traditionally, Blessed Thistle has been used to flavor Benedictine liquor, which dates back to 1510; this adds the bitter flavor, accompanied by the aromas of the other 27 herbs used, to the regularly consumed beverage. 

Other Traditional Uses: Blessed Thistle has been revered for its strong cleansing ability, and has been traditionally added to baths and ceremonial soaks to clear spiritual blockages.

Modern Applications:

Blessed Thistle is used to support skin irritations, such as acne, and also to rebalance the skin microbiome. Michael Moore uses this herb as an upper gastroprotectant which stimulates the production of bile and supports the digestive processes³; it is indicated for weak digestion, acid reflux, regulating lactation, to support the upper respiratory system, and to promote healthy urine elimination.3

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1.5-3 grams of dried flowering tops per cup of water up to three times per day; 1-3 teaspoons dried herb up to three times per day.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

7-10 mL up to three times per day of  fresh or dried herb extraction.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

We suggest conversing with your practitioner before taking Blessed Thistle if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or have any previously diagnosed liver conditions.

References:

  1. Bradley, P.R. (e.d.). 1992. British Herbal Compendium, Vol. 1. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association.
  2. Chadwick, M., Trewin, H., Gawthrop, F., & Wagstaff, C. (2013, June 19). Sesquiterpenes lactones: benefits to plants and people. www.ncbi.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709812/ 
  3. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/BlessedThistleherb.html  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.