Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is a prickly flowering plant in the thistle family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and grows in generally uncultivated areas. Blessed thistle has been used for hundreds of years and was believed to have supernatural properties. The supposed spiritual properties of blessed thistle resulted in a number of different monikers over time including holy thistle and St. Benedict’s thistle. In the middle ages, blessed thistle’s main purposes were related to digestive issues, fever, headaches, and joint inflammation. Today, blessed thistle capsules are still widely used and can be a useful supplement to have on hand.
Blessed thistle capsules are used primarily for gastrointestinal issues, but may have other beneficial uses as well. Reported benefits and uses of blessed thistle include
The constituent in blessed thistle with the most prominence is the bitter sesquiterpene lactone ester cnicin, which was isolated in 1837. The bitter cnicin causes the stimulation of gastric juices like saliva and bile, giving blessed thistle its gastrointestinal benefits. Cnicin has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as being cytotoxic to damaging cells. Blessed thistle may also be a galactagogue, stimulating production or the amount of milk produced during lactation. For this use, it’s often used in combination with Fenugreek and included in teas that promote improved lactation for nursing mothers.
Capsules are the easiest way to take blessed thistle since they eliminate the need for tonics and teas. The recommended dosage is two capsules daily. Care should be taken when using blessed thistle since high doses can cause stomach discomfort. It is often best to start with a lower dosage and work your way up.
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