Milk thistle, otherwise known as Mary thistle or holy thistle, is an herb native to many Mediterranean countries that blossoms much like a daisy and is apart of the same family. It bursts forth from ground common with sunny, and dry, and can grow to around four to ten feet tall. It is known as nature’s artichoke.
The stem is multi-branched and thin, yet erect. As with many other thistle plants, the leaves are large and waxy, with ridges along their sides. These leaves, when split open, contain a thick “milky” sap, which is its namesake.
Beginning with the 16th century, the milk thistle has been renowned for its liver detoxification properties. Not only limited to fortification, but the milk thistle is also normally used to treat cirrhosis of the liver and chronic hepatitis, which is a form of inflammation. Containing antioxidant flavonoids, it is effective in protecting liver cells from damage, or further damage. Those with gall bladder disorders or those who find themselves having ingested a poisonous Deathcap mushroom may find aid with this herb.
In an investigation concerning workers who had been exposed to venomous vapors of chemicals such as toluene for 10 to 20 years were given an extract of this plant, and others a placebo. Those who took the milk thistle regularly showed significant improvement in their liver functions and toxicity levels.
There have been other reports of this thistle aiding with high cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes in those who suffer from cirrhosis. Cancer cells not only in the liver but in the prostate, cervix, and breasts as well have shown to be stunted in their growth by Milk thistle.
To incorporate this plant into one’s diet naturally, there are a few methods that prepare the milk thistle to be readily eaten. The roots can be boiled or roasted and then buttered to make them palatable. And, once peeled, the fibrous stems can be stoked overnight to remove the bitterness and then chopped and placed into a stew. The barbed leaves can be trimmed as used as a substitute for spinach or go well when simply added to raw salads. The purple crowning flowers can be eaten like artichoke heads.
If you’re considering harvesting this plant, be sure to keep in mind that it likes, sunny areas void of excess humidity. Milk thistle tends to grow in large clusters and spreads easily.
If you’re looking for an easier route to supplement your lifestyle with Milk thistle, consider a pill form.
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