Cnicus benedictus, Carbenia benedicta, Cardo Santo, Carduus, Carduus benedictus, Cnici Benedicti Herba, Cnicus, Holy Thistle, Spotted Thistle, St. Benedict Thistle.
The blessed thistle is a weed with prickly leaves and yellow flowers surrounded by purple spikes. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and was originally used in Ayurvedic medicine in India and Bhutan. The plant was then introduced to Europe in the 1500′s and mainly cultivated in monasteries by monks where it gained the title “blessed”(benedictus) for its use in treating the black plague. It was noted as a type of panacea in herbal texts of the period primarily due to its use during the plague.
Bitter principles, primarily cnicin.
Dried leaves, stems, and flowers.
As a tea infusion, in capsules or as an extract, or externally as a poultice for boils and wounds.
Modern herbal applications of blessed thistle are based on a long history of use in Europe and in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Blessed Thistle is used to treat digestive ailments fundamentally caused by insufficient secretion of stomach acid. The herb’s bitter taste triggers a reflex reaction that releases gastric juices into the stomach, especially those needed to digest fats. For this reason, modern herbalists agree that the plant is helpful for loss of appetite, upset stomach, and gas, although it may be better to take the herb before these symptoms occur (such as before eating a fatty meal), rather than after. The herb is also antibacterial.
Generally not recommended during pregnancy. If you are allergic to artichokes, avoid this herb.