While originally found growing in areas of Asia and Europe, blessed thistle is not cultivated in variety of regions througout the world, including the United States. With exception of the root almost all of the blessed thistle plant, including the leaves, flowers and stem, is used in herbal preparations.
Historically, blessed thistle has been recommended as a treatment for stomach upset, indigestion, constipation and gas. Some individuals employ this herbs, as they would its cousin milk thistle, as a remedy for gallbladder and liver disorders. However, there is only limited clinical evidence to support it use medicinally. Notwithstanding, many individuals report that blessed thistle is an effective medicinal healing herb.
Scientists have studied the effects of blessed thistle in connect with the following conditions:
Unproven Medical Uses
- Viral Infections - Laboratory studies have found blessed thistle to have antimicrobial effects. However, no reliable studies in humans have found that blessed thistle offers significant benefits when used in connection with any type of infection.
- Upset Stomach and Indigestion - Blessed thistle has been historically recommended as therapeutic for gas, indigestion, and upset stomach. Only limited research in this area exists, and it is not certain what may result when blessed thistle is used on the stomach. Bless thistle's medicinal effect as remedy for indigestion and other related ailments is derived from the large amounts of sesquiterpene lactones, such as cunicin, that the herb contains. These lactones are reported to stimulate digestive activity by increasing secretion of gastric juices and enzymes which leads to improved digestion and appetite.
- Induced Abortion - Although blessed thistle has been used for inducing abortion, there has been limited research performed on humans. Safe and effective dosages have not been established for this purpose.
- Anti-Inflammatory - A few studies show that blessed thistle may be useful as an anti-inflammatory.
Other uses for blessed thistle have been suggested based on scientific or traditional theories. These uses, however, have not been studied thoroughly in humans, and limited scientific evidence has been found regarding safety or effectiveness. Some suggested uses for blessed thistle are for conditions that may be serious and/or life-threatening. Individuals should consult a health care provider prior to taking blessed thistle in connection with any serious condition.
Dosage and Administration
- Appetite stimulant
- Blood purification
- Breast milk stimulant
- Gallbladder disease
- Liver disease
- Memory enhancer
- Menstrual cramps
- Menstrual stimulant
- Salivary stimulant
- Skin ulcers
- Sweating stimulant
- Wound healing
- Tincture: A dose of 7.5 to 10 milliliters (one and a half to two teaspoons) of tincture containing blessed thistle (concentration of 1.5 grams per liter) has been taken by mouth three times per day.
- Liquid extract: A dose of 7.5 to 10 milliliters (one and a half to two teaspoons) of tincture containing blessed thistle (concentration of 1.5 grams per liter) has been taken by mouth three times per day.
- Infusion: A dose of 1.5 to 2 grams of blessed thistle in 150 milliliters of water has been taken orally three times a day.
- Tea: A dose of 1.5 to 3 grams of dried blessed thistle flowering tops doused in boiling water has been taken as a tea three times per day. A dose of one to three teaspoons of blessed thistle herb boiled in one cup of water for five to 15 minutes has been used three times a day prior to eating meals.
It is not recommended for children under 18 to use blessed thistle.Site Effects and Interactions
Blessed thistle is usually considered safe when used at recommended doses for short durations. Some people experience stomach discomfort, such as vomiting. Other potential side effects include skin rash or eye irritation. Adverse effects may be the consequence of blessed thistle allergies.Supporting LiteratureBradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 126-127.
Foster S. 101 Medicinal Herbs. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1998, 32-33.
Lust JB. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974, 343.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research.
Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics.