Home Remedies - St Mary's Thistle - McDowell's Herbal Treatments



Otherwise known as St Mary's Thistle, Silybum Marianum (botanical name), Marian's Thistle, Milk Thistle and Holy Thistle (do not confuse with Blessed Thistle), the plant's many guises all relate to an old legend. The story tells of Mary (Maria) resting beneath the boughs of a thistle tree so that she may feed the baby Jesus. It is said that a drop of her milk fell on the plant's green leaves and there it stayed.

For over 2,000 years Europeans have used milk thistle seeds as a herbal treatment for liver disorders. The plant has been grown both as an ornamental and a vegetable. Virtually all parts of the plant have been used as food with no reports of toxicity. Over the past 40 years, intensive chemical, pharmacological, and clinical research has confirmed mechanisms of action and therapeutic value of silymarin in a wide range of human liver disease including toxic metabolic liver damage (such as fatty degeneration of the liver) and supportive treatment of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Silymarin, derived from the seeds of the plant, has shown both protective and restorative effects in liver disease. Other components of the seed have proven useful in supportive therapy for death cap mushroom poisoning. The plant is a primary example of the usefulness of using historical efficacy as a starting point for the development of modern applications for medicinal plants.

The leaves of milk thistle provide a bitter tonic. The seeds are cholagogue (stimulates flow of bile from the liver). Leaves are used for common stomach problems like lack of appetite and dyspepsia. The seeds are used for liver, gallbladder, and spleen problems, and for jaundice and gallstone colic.

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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