Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk Thistle Identification:
Milk thistle is a stout, annual or biennial plant found in dry, rocky soils in southern and western Europe and in some parts of the U.S. The branched, shining-brown stem grows 1 to 3 feet high and bears alternate, dark green, shiny leaves with spiny, scalloped edges and white spots along the veins. The upper leaves clast the stem. Large, solitary, pruple flower heads
subtended by spiny bracts appear from June through September.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Other Names: Holy Thistle, Marythistle, St. Mary’s Thistle
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Seeds
Habitat: Common in California. Alien (Europe)
Properties: Bitter Tonic (Leaves), Cholagogue (Seeds).
Main Uses: Young leaves (with spines removed) are eaten as a vegetable. Tea made from the whole plant is used to improve appetite, allay indigestion, restore liver function. It is also used for jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, mushroom poisoning, and other liver diseases. German research suggests that silybin, a flavonoid component of the seed, is clinically useful in treating severe Amanita mushroom poisoning. Commercial preparations of the seed extracts are manufactured in Europe.
Preparations And Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon seeds in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 to 1-1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time.
Powder: Take 1 teaspoon powdered seeds with water, four or five times a day.
Seed Tincture: [1:3], 70% alcohol. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to 4 times a day.