Milk thistle is an annual plant that grows from seed each year. As it grows, it forms rosette of green leaves with white veins. The edges of the irregular shaped leaves are pointy and sharp. Then a rigid sprout with branches grows, sometimes reaching a height of 10 feet. Up to 50 flower heads are located on top of that sprout. The cup-shaped flower heads are about 1.5″-2″ in diameter. The cups have violet-purple, tubular flowers and are surrounded by spiky husks. The seeds for next year’s plants form within the flower head. There are hundreds of seeds within a single flower head. When the plant withers in the fall, the seeds drop to the ground in order to sprout again in the spring. The seeds are dried and can be taken whole or ground into powder to make teas and tinctures.
History and Folklore:
According to legend, Milk Thistle has white veins in its leaves because a drop of milk from the Virgin Mary fell onto a leaf of the plant while Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus were fleeing from King Herod. Back then, Milk Thistle was used as a liver protectant and healer, and to help with insulin resistance due to diabetes.
Cultivation and Harvest:
Harvest the seeds in the fall as the purple flowers begin to turn white or grey. Cut the stem below the flower head and place them in a paper bag for a week or so. After that week, shake and massage the bag to help separate the seed from the chaf. Then pour the seeds out of the bag. The chaff is very light and should blow away as you are pouring the seeds from the bag.
Do not take if pregnant or nursing. Milk thistle may interact with some medications, including allergy medicines, anti-anxiety drugs and blood thinners.
Traditional Herbal Actions:
Hepatic, Galactogogue, Demulcent, Cholagogue, Anti-inflamatory, Antioxident
Blessed milk thistle, Cardui mariae, Carduus marianum, Holy Thistle, Lady’s Thistle, Legalon, Marian Thistle, Mariendistel, Mary Thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, Our Lady’s Thistle, Silimarina, Silybin, Silybum, Silymarin, St. Mary Thistle, Wild Artichoke, variegated thistle and Scotch thistle.
Ingredients: Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
None of these items or statements are approved by FDA. Consult your physician before taking any supplement. Do not take herbs or tinctures during pregnancy without consulting your healthcare provider. This product is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. All information here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.
*This statement has not been verified by the FDA and is only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.