Scientific Name:Silybum marianum
About this Herb:The purple bloom of the milk thistle makes it easy to spot in a field of wild growing herbs. It is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family. While it is native to Mediterranean countries, it can be easily grown in most climates.
This species is an annual or biennial plant of the Asteraceae. The dried fruit (achenes) are used to produce modern herbal extracts.
Milk thistles height can vary from 1 foot to 6 feet tall,. The plant has an overall conical shape. It has a grooved stem that appears to have a light cotton texture.. The larger specimens have hollow stems. The leaves are oblong hairless, shiny green, with milk-white veins.
This is a most versatile herb in that it has been used to treat a variety of ailments and diseases.
The flower heads are an inch to 3 inches long and wide, of red-purple color. They flower from June to August in the North or December to February in the Southern Hemisphere. The bracts are hairless, with triangular, spine-edged appendages, tipped with a stout yellow spine. The achenes are black, with a simple long white pappus, surrounded by a yellow basal ring.
Common Names:cardus marianus, blessed milkthistle, Saint Mary's thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, variegated thistle and Scotch thistle
Uses:One of the most common uses of milk thistle is to treat liver problems. A 2016 study found that milk thistle improved diet-induced liver damage in mice. Milk Thistle has also been used for centuries to treat neurological conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease.
It has also been found to delay the effects of bone loss in menopausal women. It contains anti-oxidants that have also been used to bolster the effects of many cancer treatments.
It has been found to increase Prolactin, a hormone that helps produce breast milk.
The treatment of acne is another well known use for Milk Thistle.
Applications:Extracts: Place 3/4-cup full of milk thistle seeds in a blender or an herb grinder and process. Pour the blended thistle seeds to a sterilized, pint-sized canning jar. Pour 1 cup of 100 proof alcohol into the jar. Add 1 cup of water and stir to mix the ingredients.
Capsule: Harvesting of the efficacious part of the plant has already been done in capsules. Follow the directions for ingestion.
Tea: Fill a tea bag with the powdered milk thistle seeds. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Pour the hot water over the tea bag in a cup and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. Add the honey or sugar for flavor.