Latin: Carduus marianum
For years I wondered round meadows and fields and hedgerows meeting thistles, frustrated at my limited botany and ability to tell thistle from thistle. Each time I remained in a state of unknowing, wondering what the thistle was that is so well researched and so dominating in the Materia Medica. I met it last month in fact, at a herb conference in Ireland (still not in the wild), and I was reminded that sometimes limited botany doesn’t matter as it really is all in the name. The large thistle leaves are mapped clearly with palpable milky veins. It is native to the coast South-east England and is consider an invasive weed in Iran, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
I’ve been taking milk thistle for years, I and every other Herbalist/plant person have been connecting many peoples livers with milk thistle. Healing, restoring, replenishing, protecting Livers all over the world has been our Milk Thistle. The Liver you see does absolutely loads of background work. Its like that person in the campaign group that will take on all the unseen labour that no one either wants to do, or even notices. Its a huge part of digestion, metabolising carbohydrates, proteins, and producing bile to break down fats. All drugs (recreational and pharmaceutical), any toxic chemicals, alcohol, and basically anything unsavoury that enters the body pass though the liver for detoxification and breaking down. The highly toxic society we live in and everything we are exposed to and consume means the liver is always working proper hard.
The liver really does enjoy regular meetings with its good friend Milk Thistle for both support and replenishment much like the relationships that sustain us and nourish us in life.
Milk thistle is hepatoprotective which is a ‘sciency’ term for strengthening the hepatocytes (liver cells) to deal with the toxins. It increases the flow of bile between the Liver and Gall bladder, increases milk flow and is safe in breast feeding mothers.
Generally it supports the liver, thus aids digestion, and detoxification, is extremely supportive, and should be took before and after drinking (useful in a hangover mix) or drug use. It is proven in treatment of liver disease (cirrhosis, Hepatitis) and struggling livers from pharmaceuticals or drugs.
Milky Milk Thistle. A very very good friend in a toxic society. Make sure you make room for your liver and milk thistle to catch up regularly.