Blessed Thistle is a plant found primarily in Asia and Europe. Blessed Thistle is also referred to as "St. Benedict Thistle" and "Holy Thistle", names that reflect the fact that Blessed Thistle was a popular folk remedy and tonic appreciated by monastic monks in the Middle Ages. Blessed Thistle should not be confused with "Milk Thistle" (also known as Marian, St. Mary's, or Our Lady's Thistle). The plant is praised for its medicinal powers in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and was recommended in early herbal treatises as a remedy for migraine and other headaches.
In Europe, Blessed Thistle is regarded as an excellent appetite stimulant, and is used in the manufacture of "bitters" to be taken before meals to stimulate stomach and intestinal activity, and aid in digestion and circulation. It is also used in the treatment of constipation and flatulence, and is considered an excellent heart tonic and blood purifier. The flowers of Blessed Thistle are commonly brewed to make a slightly bitter, and sweet, tea that has a mild diuretic activity. Blessed Thistle tea is used by contemporary herbalists for the treatment of a variety of liver problems, such as jaundice and hepatitis. Because painful menstruation can involve the liver, Blessed Thistle is a common component of herbal formulas used to relieve menstrual symptoms. Containing B-complex, calcium, iron, manganese, cincin and essential oils, Blessed Thistle can be used to increase the appetite and alleviate inflammation caused by poor digestion. Blessed Thistle also improves circulation and purifies the blood increasing oxygen to the brain to stimulate memory.
Blessed Thistle is used to strengthen the heart, and is useful in all remedies for lung, kidney, and especially liver problems. It is also used as a brain food for stimulating the memory. It is used in remedies for menopause and for menstrual cramping. This herb is often used by lactating women to stimulate blood flow to the mammary glands and to increase the flow of milk. Blessed thistle is a very useful herb for women. Blessed thistle can be taken to relieve painful periods, and for menstrual headaches. As an emmenagogue blessed thistle will help bring on suppressed periods (and so should be avoided during pregnancy). Blessed thistle can be helpful during problems with the menopause, such as heavy bleeding. The bitters in blessed thistle enhance the appetite and aid digestion, while stimulating the liver and the flow of bile. Blessed thistle is a good remedy for anorexia, indigestion, wind, colic and any condition associated with a sluggish liver such as headaches, lethargy and irritability. Its astringent action is useful for treating diarrhea.
The bitters have been shown to have an antimicrobial action, useful for enhancing the function of the immune system. Blessed thistle has also been shown to act as an antineoplastic, hindering the formation of abnormal cells, useful in cancer treatment. Blessed thistle also has diuretic properties and when taken in hot infusion is a useful diaphoretic for fevers and an expectorant for chest problems. Blessed thistle can be used to staunch bleeding of cuts, and speed healing of wounds. Blesses thistle also acts as an antiseptic. Blessed thistle is one of the best medicines for promoting breast milk in nursing mothers.