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Last modified: 08/11/2014



Name: Blessed Thistle

Biological Name: Cnicus benedictus


Other Names: Holy Thistle, Saint Benedict thistle, spotted thistle, cardin, bitter thistle, blessed cardus, blessed thistle

Parts Used: Herb

Active Compounds:  

The sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin, provide the main beneficial effects of blessed thistle. The bitterness of these compounds stimulates digestive activity, including the flow of saliva and secretion of gastric juice, which leads to improved appetite and digestions. There is some evidence that blessed thistle also has anti-inflammatory properties.


Folk medicine utilized blessed thistle tea for digestive problems, including gas, constipation, and stomach upset. This herb was also used for liver and gallbladder diseases, in a similar way as its well-known relative, milk thistle.

Monks once grew blessed thistle as a cure for small pox. Early herbalists believed that the herb was a cure-all. They noted that the plant could both prevent and cure headache, provoke sweat, help memory, strengthen the heart and stomach, and cure external problems such as festering sores, boils, and the itch.

Nineteenth century herbalists prescribed an infusion, or tea, made from the plant tops as a treatment for fevers and for liver and respiratory ailments.

Remedies For: 

Blessed Thistle may be useful in:

Indigestion and heartburn
Poor appetite

In herbal medicine today, blessed thistle is used as a contraceptive and to treat cancer as well as infections, heart and liver ailments, and fevers.

Blessed thistle is believed to have great power in the purification and circulation of the blood. It is such a good blood purifier that drinking a cup of thistle tea twice a day will cure chronic headaches.

Also used for stomach and digestive problems, gas in the intestines, constipation, and liver troubles.

It is very effective for dropsy, strengthens the heart, and is good for the liver, lungs, and kidneys. It is claimed that the warm tea given to mothers will produce a good supply of milk. It is also said to be good for girls entering womanhood as a good tonic.


Although native to Europe and Asia, blessed thistle is now cultivated in many areas of the world, including the United States. The leaves, stems, and flowers are all used in herbal preparations.

An annual herb, growing to about 2 feet tall. The brown stem is hairy and erect. The lance shaped leaves have spiny edges and may be either lobed or cleft (deeply cut.) The plant produces numerous yellow flowers (May - August) arranged in a head at the tip of a branch or stem.


Many people take 2 ml three times per day of blessed thistle tincture.

Approximately 2 grams of the dried herb can also be added to 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water and steeped ten to fifteen minutes to make a tea. Three cups can be drunk each day.

Taken best at bedtime as a preventive of disease.


Blessed thistle is relatively safe and free from side effects. Anyone with allergies to plants in the daisy family should use blessed thistle cautiously.
Don't make the tea too strong as it may cause vomiting.

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