Medicinal Herb – Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Medicinal Herb Post #16 written June 19, 2018

Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum

I know what you’re thinking… that’s a weed! Well, yes to some people, but most weeds really are plants we don’t fully understand yet. I’m not promoting a practice of growing noxious weeds so please don’t shoot the messenger  . Milk Thistle is an annual or biennial depending on the conditions it grows in. It can produce up to 200 seeds per flower. The seed is the medicine you want so if that is why you’re growing it, it isn’t too difficult to control. Last year I took all the seed I grew except for the little guy in the picture below that came up on its own. You can determine the difference between this thistle and others by its white veined spots on the leaves that look like they’ve been painted with milk.

Milk thistle is the best known liver restorative there is. It strengthens, tones and protects the liver incredibly well! It can help regrow liver tissue! It is used in most herbal liver formulas from jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis and even eczema/psoriasis. Milk thistle helps the body to produce more glutathione which helps the liver detox harmful substances.

Dr. Christopher was an herbalist who has since passed away who shared a story of a farmer who had a horse that got into hounds tongue, a noxious and poisonous weed. The doctor gave the horse milk weed to protect its liver as it passed through its system and the horse lived. That wasn’t always the case for horses who got into those plants. Its benefits are so well known it is given to patients who have undergone liver transplants, chemotherapy and those who have been poisoned by taking too much Tylenol (also a dangerous substance that doesn’t allow your body to produce glutathione). Milk thistle also contains anti-oxidants, is an anti-inflammatory, is used for fighting infections concerning the liver like hepatitis and cirrhosis. Studies have shown that long term use lowers insulin levels making it a great herb for diabetics as well as the growth of certain cancer cells. Another study was done on mice. They separated them in to two groups. The first group got milk thistle with their breakfast and the second group didn’t. For lunch they fed the mice death cap mushrooms, the most deadly plant on earth. The first group who had the milk thistle didn’t die, in fact they weren’t even phased. Where the first group died instantly! Now that’s a powerful plant!

So what do you think of this little plant now? Pretty amazing right? There are no contraindications so it’s perfectly safe to take anytime.

Emily Saddler

Emily is first a wife to her best friend Ryan, homeschool mom of 7 awesome kids, Holistic Health Practitioner in the state of Utah and Traditional Naturopath outside of the state of Utah, master gardener, yoga/pilates instructor, certified clinical and master herbalist, licensed massage therapist, and doula. She is a very passionate advocate of all things Mother Nature! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients, herbal and natural home care product recipes and loves teaching classes on gardening, plant identification and herbal remedy workshops. Check out the events and classes page for more info.

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