Milk Thistle

Botanical: Silybum marianum

Family: Asteraceae

parts used: seed, root, leaves, stem, and flower (edible)
energetics: moist, cool
actions: antioxidant, detoxifying, hepatitis, jaundice, liver disease, insulin resistance
used for: Protecting liver cells from damaging effects of toxic substances, promoting regeneration of liver tissue, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mild cholagogue
common names: Mediterranean Milk Thistle, Blessed Milk Thistle, St Mary’s Thistle, Wild Artichoke

Milk thistle grows as an annual or biennial plant. The erect stem if tall, branched and furrowed, but not spiny. Large alternate leaves are waxy-lobed, toothed and thorny. Disc shaped pint to purple solitary lower heads at the end of the stem. Native to Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East, now found throughout the world.

Interesting Facts:

In the Language of flowers, the thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of childbirth. This thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander lll (1249-1286) and was used on silver coins issued by James lll in 1470.

The thistle is Eeyore’s favorite food in Winnie the Pooh!

Using Milk Thistle for Wellness

Known traditionally worldwide as the quintessential liver herb, Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) also has extensive modern research validating its use as a liver protector and re-generator. Milk Thistle’s potent extract, silymarin, is used for liver support and is the only substance known to protect, revive, heal, detox, and regenerate new clean, strong, detoxed liver cells as it assists with protecting liver cell membranes while regenerating new liver cells.

milk thistle bloom and a bee

Milk Thistle is commonly used to support health in liver and gallbladder disorders such as Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Alcohol and toxin liver damage and increasing the flow of bile.

Dose: range from 150mg as a general tonic to 1000mg daily for severe conditions

  • If you are allergic to any member of the aster family – which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies and marigolds – don’t take milk thistle.

“If those of these times would but be, by a joint concurrence, as industrious to search into the secrets of the nature of herbs, and make trial of them. They would no doubt find the force of simples many times no less effectual, then that of compounds to which this present age is too much addicted.”
– William Cole, Adam in Eden

Works Cited:

  • Spiteri, Maria. Herbal Monographs. Department of Pharmacy University of Malta, 2011
milk thistle with other herbs
The green contrasted with the white helps you identify this thistle.

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson