Blessed thistle has been revered since at least the Middle Ages in Europe for its healing properties, at which time it was used as a digestive stimulant, a purifying tonic, and was also eaten as a vegetable. Further, traditional herbalists have employed it to support lactation in nursing mothers. This herb is approved by the German Commission E for its ability to increase appetite and support the digestive process, and is also an approved food additive in the United States as it is often found in liqueurs such as Benedictine.
Diuretic, diaphoretic, emetic, tonic1,3 appetizer, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, emmenagogue, galactogogue, vermifuge.2
Blessed thistle contains sesquiterpene lactones including cnicin (bitter index = 1:1,800), tannin, lignan lactones (lignanolides), phytosterols, triterpenoids, volatile oils,4 potassium, calcium, magnesium and manganese,2 and small amounts of flavonoids and polyacetylenes.4
The Commission E approved the internal use of blessed thistle as an appetite stimulant and for supporting healthy digestion. It reported that this aromatic bitter herb which is high in the bitter principle cinicin, stimulates the secretion of saliva and gastric juices.4
Blessed thistle is closely related to other Centaurea species that are often referred to as ‘knapweeds’ and are considered highly invasive species. Often various civic or governmental organizations will use harsh herbicides to ‘control’ or eradicate these weeds. However, most weeds have medicinal properties, various knapweeds included. So why not just pull these exotic plants out by hand and make some medicine…it’s a win-win!
Persons with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family (such as feverfew, chamomile, or Echinacea species) should exercise caution with Blessed Thistle as allergic cross-reactivity to Asteraceae plants is common.
- Lust, J. (2014). The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published. Courier Dover Publications.
- Khan, I. A., & Abourashed, E. A. (2011). Leung’s encyclopedia of common natural ingredients: used in food, drugs and cosmetics. John Wiley & Sons.
- Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. Accessed at http://botanical.com/botanical on November 24, 2014.
- Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.