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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics

Holy Thistle, St. Benedict Thistle

(Cnicus Benedictus)

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  • Blessed Thistle Description
  • Blessed Thistle Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Blessed Thistle Dosage Information
  • Blessed Thistle Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Blessed Thistle Supplements & Products

  • blessed thistle


    Blessed Thistle is also known as Carduus Benedictus, Blessed Carduus, Cnicus Benedictus, Benedict Thistle, Holy Thistle, Saint Benedict Thistle, Spotted Thistle, Carbenia benedicta, Cardo Santo, Carduus, Cnici Benedicti Herba, Cnicus, St. Benedict Thistle, bitter thistle, or blessed cardus.

    Thistle has been cultivated for several centuries in this country for its medicinal use is known as the Blessed or Holy Thistle. In ancient times Blessed Thistle was thought to possess supernatural qualities. It has been called supernatural because of its reputation to cure the plague. Blessed Thistle is mentioned in all the treatises on the Plague. The Blessed Thistle name is thought to have come as a result of a legend from the days of Charlemagne. During one of his expeditions his troops took ill with the plague. Supposedly an Angel appeared to him in his sleep and told him that if he were to shoot an arrow into the air, the arrow would land on the plant that would cure his men. The arrow fell on a big patch of this herb, Charlemagne fed it to his men right away and saved their lives. Its powers are mention in virtually all the writings issued during times of epidemic infectious diseases. Herbalists during the days of Knights used Blessed Thistle to cure not only the Plague but also Agues and Jaundice.

    Many herbalists of ancient times wrote about this herb, such as, Thomas Brasbridge (1578) published a book that declares what good the herb Carduus Benedictus can do. Turner (1568) reported the use of Blessed Thistle as well as Culpepper (1652). Shakespeare even mentions Carduus Benedictus in his Much Ado About Nothing. Monks once grew Blessed Thistle as a cure for small pox. Early herbalists believed that the herb was a cure all.

    Blessed thistle is a thistle-like perennial herb growing above the ground with a non-woody stem. Native to the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, the Mediterranean region, from Portugal north to southern France and east to Iran, cnicus benedictus has been used for centuries to address a wide range of complaints. It is known in other parts of the world, including parts of North America, as an introduced species and often a noxious weed. It is the sole species in the monotypic genus Cnicus.

    The Blessed Thistle is a weed with prickly leaves and yellow flowers surrounded by purple spikes. The related genus Notobasis is included in Cnicus by some botanists; it differs in slender, much spinier leaves and purple flowers. Blessed Thisle, indigenous to the Mediterranean, was originally used in Ayurvedic medicine in India and Bhutan. The plant was then introduced to Europe in the 1500ís and mainly cultivated in monasteries by monks where it gained the title "blessed" (benedictus) for its use in treating the black plague. It was noted as a type of panacea in herbal texts of the period primarily due to its use during the plague.

    The stem of the Blessed Thistle grows about two feet high. This herb is reddish, slender, has many branches and can hardly stand upright due to its weight of its leaves and flower heads. The leaves are long, narrow and clasp the green stem with prominent pale veins. The flowers are pale yellow, with green prickly heads and the covering of the head ends with long brown bristle. The leaves and flowering tops of Blessed Thistle are harvested during the summer. This Mediterranean herb does well on arid stony ground as well as in open areas, like meadows and pastures. It can be grown without any difficulty in common garden soil. The herb has a preference for arid soil and sunlit locations and grows best on soils that have adequate manure. It is an extremely decorative plant and is frequently grown in Europe in the form of a medicinal plant as well as for its seeds that yield oil. Some consider this herb a weed for it can grow almost anywhere. Blessed thistle is propagated by its seeds that are sown in situ (in their permanent positions) during spring or the early part of autumn. Generally, it takes two to six weeks' time for the seeds to germinate when the temperature is maintained at 10°C.

    blessed thistle flower


    Blessed thistle herb, or cnicus benedictus, is one of the most useful natural herbs in the botanical apothecary.

    When you are looking for bulk herbs for sale, blessed thistle herb should be near the top of your shopping list for its many different potential applications. The entire herb possesses cholagogue, bitter, astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic and potently emetic properties, especially when it is taken in large doses. It is also a stimulant, galactogogue, emmenagogue, stomachic as well as a tonic. The astringent action of this herb is beneficial for curing diarrhea.

  • Blessed Thistle was used in early herbal treatises as a remedy for migraine and other headaches.
  • Blessed Thistle is used in folk medicine for digestive problems such as gas, constipation, and stomach upset.
  • Natural-health enthusiasts use Blessed Thistle to support the female reproductive system.
  • Blessed Thistle herb has a bitter principle that stimulates the liver and increases the flow of bile, and acts as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid.

  • The entire plant is edible, though the prickly spines can be troublesome. The herb contains B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron and manganese. Besides its therapeutic uses, Blessed Thistle is also used for culinary purposes, especially the young leaves, which are often consumed raw. The flower heads of this herb are harvested prior to the unfolding of the flowers and they have been employed in the form of a substitute for Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus). Since the flower heads of Blessed Thistle are somewhat small, employing them in this manner is extremely tricky. The root of Blessed Thistle is boiled in the form of a pot herb. Blessed thistle is generally used in the form of a flavoring agent.

    Today Blessed Thistle is used medicinally to therapeutically treat digestive problems as an excellent bitter tonic. Blessed thistle is harvested during the summer while it starts blossoming and is dried up for use in future. This herb is also used to prepare a homeopathic remedy that is employed to treat gallbladder and liver problems. It may be noted here that the therapeutic guide to herbal medication, the German Commission E Monographs have approved the use of Cnicus benedictus or the blessed thistle for treatment of indigestion (dyspepsia) as well as loss of appetite. Blessed Thistle increases the appetite and stomach, intestinal and gall bladder secretions, and works to heal liver and gallbladder diseases. Blessed Thistle also works well in treating anorexia, indigestion, flatulence and colic.

    A warm infusion prepared from the whole herb is believed to be among the most effectual ways of augmenting a nursing mother's breast milk supply. In addition, the infusion prepared with the whole herb has been employed in the form of a contraceptive.

    It also cleanses the blood, improves circulation, and strengthens the heart. It is also used for menopause and menstrual cramps, and can aid in increasing milk flow in nursing mothers. It can relieve headaches caused by a sluggish liver, lethargy and irritability and is used for reducing diarrhea. The diuretic property of this herb makes it useful for treating intermittent fevers, for use as an expectorant for chest congestion and it is also possesses gentle antibiotic properties. It is used to prepare a balm to heal sores and wounds. Blessed Thistle is known to alleviate inflammation and stop bleeding and cuts. Preliminary studies suggest that compounds in this herb have anti-HIV activity.


    Blessed Thistle constituents include bitter principles, primarily a bitter glycoside called cnicin, flavonoids, essential oil and mucilage. The parts used are the dried leaves, stems and flowers. Typical preparations include use as a tea infusion, in capsules, as an herbal extract tincture, or externally as a poultice for boils and wounds.

    The German Commission E recommends 4 to 6 grams of Blessed Thistle daily. Therapeutically, Blessed Thistle is mainly used in tincture form. Usually people take 1/2 teaspoon (2-ml) Blessed Thistle tincture 3 times a day. For making a tea, take 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) of the dried herb and add to 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water. Allow it to steep for about 15 minutes. Drink 3 cups of this tea every day. For other formulations, read and follow product label directions.

    It may be noted that blessed thistle is considered to be among the best herbal medications to stimulate production of breast milk in nursing mothers. A tea prepared from blessed thistle not only helps in this regard, but also augments the functioning of the heart. The tea can be prepared by adding 1.5 tablespoons of cut and dried up herb to one pint of boiling water. Allow the mixture to permeate for about 45 minutes and subsequently filter the liquid and drink it warm. The ideal dosage is drinking one cup of this tea approximately 30 minutes prior to nursing the baby. Alternately, for her convenience, a new mother may also desire to take the herb in its pounded form, taking two capsules three times every day while she is nursing the infant.

    Until today, people in the Black Forest of Bavaria located in southern Germany highly prefer blessed thistle for treating liver disorders and digestive complaints. Here people take the herb in the form of a fluid extract in the dose of one teaspoon. It is also possible to make a comparable dosage without difficulty by blending 1.5 tablespoonfuls of the pulverized dried blessed thistle in 1 to 1.5 cups (250 ml to 375 ml) of vodka or brandy. Allow the mixture to remain as it is for about two weeks in a pint jar and shake it strongly every day. Subsequently, filter the liquid and store it in a different jar and keep it in a cool and dry location. One teaspoon of this liquid extract may be added to four fluid ounces of distilled water and drunk on an empty stomach.


    Blessed Thistle is generally regarded as safe but can cause vomiting when taken in excessive doses (more than 5 grams in every cup of tea).

    There are no known side effects with this herb; however, those with allergies to plants in the daisy family should use this herb with care.

  • A little bit of blessed thistle herb goes a long way.
  • Pregnant and nursing women should avoid blessed thistle herb altogether. Generally not recommended during pregnancy.
  • People who are taking blood thinners should consult their primary health care provider before taking any extract of cnicus benedictus. This herb may increase bleeding and therefore, care should be taken while taking anticoagulant-blood thinning medications.
  • If you are allergic to artichokes, avoid this herb.
  • It is not recommended for those with gastric ulcers, enduring hearburn, or stomach irritations since it stimulates the digestive juices.
  • Blessed Thistle is subject to legal restrictions as a medication in some countries.

  • The side effects of using Blessed Thistle may includ probable irritation to the eyes. In addition, it may also result in probable cross-reaction with Echinacea and Mugwort - sometimes, also Blanket Flowers, Bitter Weed, Colt's Foot, Calendula, Chrysanthemum and Dandelion. Hence, they should not be used in conjunction with Blessed Thistle.


  • Blessed Thistle Herbal Products



    Modern uses of Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus) include increasing milk supply for nursing mothers, memory improvement, increasing appetite and generally preventing sickness. Helps nursing mothers by stimulating the mammary glands and helps to increase breast milk supply.


    Mountain Rose Herbs: Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus), Certified Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Nurse-Me Rhyme Tea, Certified Organic, Organic Herbal Teas, Bulk & Loose
    During the first precious months of life, tiny human beings need love, comfort, and the very best nutrition available. This delicious and invigorating infusion is formulated to support healthy lactation for all of you wonderful mommies. Sip throughout the day to nourish your little one, or while at work to assist with pumping. Contains: organic Red Rooibos Tea, organic Raspberry leaf, organic Lemon Balm, organic Fenugreek seed, organic Fennel seed, organic Marshmallow root, organic Blessed Thistle, organic Rosehips, and organic Anise seed.


    Starwest Botanicals: Blessed Thistle Herb, Organic, Cut & Sifted, 4 oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Blessed Thistle Herb, Organic, Cut & Sifted, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Blessed Thistle Herb Powder, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Blessed Thistle Herb Powder, Organic, 1 lb.


    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle Extract, Eclectic Institute Inc, 1 fl. oz. (31845)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle Extract, Herb Pharm, 1 fl. oz. (20434)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle Extract, Natures Answer, 1 fl. oz. (17093)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle Extract, Eclectic Institute Inc, 2 fl. oz. (76245)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle Extract, Herb Pharm, 4 fl. oz. (32216)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle, Natures Herbs, 100 Caps (17398)
    HerbsPro: Blessed Thistle, Organic, Natures Way, 100 Caps (17744)


    TakeHerb: Blessed Thistle Herb (Cnicus Benedictus), Organic, Cut & Sifted, Starwest Botanicals, 4 oz.
    TakeHerb: Blessed Thistle Herb (Cnicus Benedictus), Organic, Cut & Sifted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb.
    TakeHerb: Blessed Thistle Herb Powder (Cnicus Benedictus), Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb.


    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus benedictus), Health & Herbs, 2 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus benedictus), Health & Herbs, 8 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus benedictus), Health & Herbs, 16 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus benedictus), Health & Herbs, 32 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus Benedictus), Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs,) 2 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus Benedictus), Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs, 8 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Blessed Thistle Extract (Cnicus Benedictus), Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs, 16 fl. oz: HH

  • Nutrition Basics: Blessed Thistle Herbal Information

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