Blessed Thistle (also known as Holy Thistle or St. Benedict’s Thistle) was given this name due to its reputation as a cure-all. It’s Latin name, Cnicus Benedictus, was given because its ability to cure was considered a gift from God. It is perhaps most well known for its usage with female related problems, though it should not be used during pregnancy. It can be found and used in tinctures, capsules, or teas.
Blessed Thistle is often used in teas for nursing mothers to help increase milk supply. It is known to increase circulation and treat hormone imbalance. It enhances memory by delivering oxygen to the brain and is supportive of the heart and lungs.
Due to its ability to act on the endocrine system, it is important to check with a doctor or healthcare practitioner before using this herb.
According to the book Nutritional Herbology:
Herbalists use it as a female tonic to increase mother’s milk and treat painful menstruation.
Effects of Blessed Thistle
Large doses are said to have an emetic and expectorant effect. Thistle contains bitter glycosides that may help stimulate appetite and act as a tonic to the digestive tract. Historically, large doses were used as a diaphoretic and for general stimulant action.
In more recent times, thistle has received a reputation for its action on the internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. Homeopaths have touted it most highly in this regard and use a tincture for jaundice, hepatitis, and arthritis and it is often included in homeopathic formulas.
Historically, herbalists and healers believed that ingesting bitter herbs provided strength that could be used to combat illness. We now understand that physiologically, bitter herbs stimulate certain organs of the body into a reflex action that triggers the glands into action and this seems to be especially noticeable in the liver and female reproductive organs.
Nutrients in Blessed Thistle
This herb contains bitter compounds that decrease the thickness while increasing the production of mucosal fluids particularly in the digestive and respiratory systems, which may explain some of its beneficial effects for both digestion and the reproductive organs.
It also contains astringent compounds that are antiseptic, dilate peripheral blood vessels, and shrink inflamed tissue. Blessed thistle is an excellent herbal source of potassium and sodium and has been used for dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, arthritis, dysura, jaundice, fevers and respiratory allergies.
How It is Used
Blessed thistle can be found in capsule form, in herbal tinctures or extracts and has also been recommended in herbal guidebooks for use in an external poultice for certain types of wounds.
History of Use
This herb has a long history of use in various types of traditional medicine. As this article explains:
Modern herbal applications of blessed thistle are based on a long history of use in Europe and in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Blessed Thistle is used to treat digestive ailments fundamentally caused by insufficient secretion of stomach acid. The herb’s bitter taste triggers a reflex reaction that releases gastric juices into the stomach, especially those needed to digest fats. For this reason, modern herbalists agree that the plant is helpful for loss of appetite, upset stomach, and gas, although it may be better to take the herb before these symptoms occur (such as before eating a fatty meal), rather than after. The herb is also antibacterial.
Blessed Thistle Precautions
Blessed Thistle is generally not recommended during pregnancy, though it is often included in herbal formulas for nursing. People who are allergic to artichokes may react to blessed thistle and should avoid it. Due to its effect on the digestive system and reproductive organs, it is important to consult a qualified health practitioner before using this or any herb or remedy.
Have you ever used Blessed Thistle? What did you use it for?
Discussion (16 Comments)
I don’t find the botanical name anywhere in this post. That’s something that I think is important. Common names change from region to region, scientific names do not.
I STARTED USING THE HERB AND I NOTISED MY BREAST HAVING WATER..WATS UP WITH THAT?
I was told to take this if your trying to concive?? Yes or no
The American Indians used blessed thistle as a form of birth control contraceptive.
My naturopath put me on this a few months ago, but only 1 capsule every other day. So not a big dose. She did muscle testing, and this was one of the supplements I tested “positive” for. The muscle testing revealed that I have issues in my liver and gall bladder, so I’m assuming that is what it is helping. I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge change, but I know it takes time to correct some things.
Gentle Birth (from mountain meadow) has this been in it, and its suggested to start taking it at 35 weeks. Thoughts, since you say its not recommended in pregnancy?
I am taking Fenugreek to try and increase my milk supply – I struggle with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and do all that I can by not eating grains or dairy, and eating lots of healthy fats to combat it – but I still could use more support. Should I add a capsule of this to my routine? I don’t have time to drink a ton of tea…
Do you have a list of favorite herbs and Essential oils that you always have on hand? I would like to stock my cabinet so that I will have the majority of the herbs and oils needed at any given time to whip up a batch of whatever is needed.
Randee Leigh Coral
I often use your website as a reference and think it’s great!! I live in Guatemala and get my herbs from the local market. All the herbs are in Spanish and I have been able to translate them all and find out what they are except for one. And I was thinking maybe you could help me. Its called Tierra Bendita which translates to Blessed Earth and the only herb I can think of that it could be is Blessed Thistle. But it does not look like Blessed Thistle–it is hard, whitish color, almost like chalk, and I have to grate it off to make a powder in order to use it. The woman in the market said it is bitter in taste and is used to relieve PMS symptoms. I can’t find anything resembling it–could it be Blessed Thistle??
Milk thistle maybe??
I think Tierra Bendita may be Yerba Mate. Late reply but I thought I’d add it for anyone looking.
I began using milk thistle when my friend recommended it for cellulite (I never noticed this side effect), but stumbled upon them being a miracle herb for my allergies. I had terrible allergies that non-natural drugs weren’t wiping out, but milk thistle seemed to have completely cured me of bad allergies as long as I take them regularly. Glad to see that was a side effect in this article (respiratory allergies), as I knew I wasn’t crazy but it was somewhat difficult to find the correlation elsewhere on the web! Thank you for your blog, I’m excited to gradually add in other changes to my life to be healthier overall!
I was going back through some of your older blog posts and came upon this one about blessed thistle. I noticed that it didn’t make it into your more recent article on feminine reproductive health (it specifically addressed time-of-month issues). Is blessed thistle still something that you recommend/use?
Yes, but it isn’t safe during pregnancy, and since many of my readers are either trying to conceive or could be pregnant and not know it, I didn’t want to suggest an herb that could be harmful. It is a great herb if you aren’t trying to conceive though…