Blessed thistle, native to Asia and Europe, is also known as Our Lady’s milk thistle or holy thistle. It gained its name “blessed” because of its abilities as a heal - all. Wild-hearted grandmothers say this herb confers a blessing on all who grow, gather, or use it.
Infusion of dried blessed thistle, or tincture of the fresh flowering tops, is highly regarded as a tonifying stimulant to fluid flows in the body. When I want a digestive bitter and tonic, I sip a cupful of cold blessed thistle infusion. Or put 20 drops of blessed thistle tincture into a cup of cold water. The warm dried plant infusion is tonic to the heart and circulation.
Consistent use of blessed thistle strengthens the brain and memory and helps clear depression. A student of mine saw unmistakable antidepressant effects when taking blessed thistle daily. It also improved her vital energy.
A few drops of blessed thistle tincture taken several times throughout the day promotes abundant milk in nursing mothers, and I have offered this remedy to many a new mother over the years, always with great success. Blessed thistle is also used reliably to both stimulate and regulate menstruation and is a helpful ally during menopause. American Indians used this herb to expel parasites, as an emmenagogue and an emetic. Quinault drank an infusion of the leaves and flowers as a contraceptive.
I consider blessed thistle an ally when dealing with lung congestion or bronchial infection of any kind. I sip the infusion to help clear phlegm and tone the entire respiratory system. And I have called upon blessed thistle to treat a headache or migraine and to help bring down a fever.
A well - strained blessed thistle infusion can be applied as an antiseptic wash on cuts, scrapes, bruises or wounds, and the strained plant material used as a poultice to help the healing process.
Blessed thistle is generously supplied with calcium, chromium, potassium, selenium, and carotenes. It also offers stores of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and B vitamins. Among its constituents are volatile oils, resins, glycosides, cinicin, tannin, mucilage, sugars, and starch.
The young spring leaves of blessed thistle are eaten like watercress. The tonifying benefits of blessed thistle are gained by ingesting it in moderate portions: no more than one cupful of infusion daily, 10-30 drops of the tincture.
Blessed thistle is an herb of protection. Keep a blessed thistle flower in a special bag to ensure endurance and the ability to survive any test. Place thistles at the cardinal directions to strengthen prayers of healing for an animal.
Blessed thistle flower essence helps manifest ideas into reality, just as the energy of the Green Man stirs seeds into sprouting. Sometimes I carry it as a talisman when such energy is needed..
I love growing blessed thistle and wouldn’t consider an herb garden without it. At first glance, it is rather insignificant looking, but closer examination proves it quite intriguing. The plant stays low to the ground and begins to show a sprawling habit around mid - summer. The flowers are the thing! Easy to miss, they look like fat artichokes in a bud, with a bit of yellow fuzz at the top. Later, they develop lots of golden, needle - like crisscrosses. They dry completely intact, keeping their color beautifully.
I believe what the grandmothers say about blessed thistle conferring blessings, so I take everyone who visits my garden to see this beneficial plant. I’ve noticed it makes friends very easily. In the fall I give seeds away so others can start their own blessed thistle patch. It’s very easy to grow. Put blessed thistle seeds directly into the garden in spring. They enjoy a sunny spot and a good helping of well-rotted compost.
I harvest the young, fresh leaves of blessed thistle when they are vibrant, eating them in salads or sandwiches. I gather the entire above-ground portion of the plant during flowering and tincture immediately in alcohol or vinegar or dry it on screens or in bunches hanging from my ceiling.
In large doses, blessed thistle can cause vomiting.