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Blessed Thistle

General Information

The blessed thistle plant was used historically to treat bubonic plague sores and for symptoms related to poor digestion. Today it is more likely to be prepared as a tea or used as a flavouring agent in alcoholic beverages. Medicine is usually made from the flower tops, leaves, seeds, and upper stems of the plant.

Common Name(s)

holy thistle, spotted thistle, St. Benedict thistle, carbenia benedicta, cardo bendito, cardo santo, carduus, carduus benedictus, chardon béni, chardon bénit, cnici benedicti herba, cnicus

Scientific Name(s)

Cnicus benedictus L. (Asteraceae)

Scientific Name(s)

Blessed thistle is available as a supplement taken by mouth. It comes in different forms, including dry powder, fluid extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient, or infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredient. The adult dose of blessed thistle in the dried herb top form ranges from 0.6 g to 6 g per day. Doses larger than 5 g per cup of tea should be avoided because blessed thistle can cause stomach irritation and vomiting.

When applied to the affected area, the dose of blessed thistle in the dried herb-top form ranges from 1.5 g to 2 g.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

When taken by mouth, blessed thistle has traditionally been used to help increase appetite and digestion. It is also used to relieve an upset stomach or as an expectorantexpectorantan agent that thins mucus (phlegm) so that it can be absorbed or coughed up to help cough up phlegm.

This product has also been used for treating liver disease, helping improve memory, increasing milk production in nursing mothers, increasing urine output, and relieving painful menstruation.

When applied to the skin, it has also been used to treat boils, wounds, and ulcers.

There is not enough reliable research available to show whether blessed thistle is effective for these conditions.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Blessed thistle may increase stomach acid and can reduce the effectiveness of antacids (e.g., calcium carbonate), H2-blockers (e.g., ranitidine), or proton pump inhibitors (e.g., omeprazole).

You should avoid using blessed thistle if you have intestinal problemssuch as Crohn's disease, as it can irritate the stomach and the gut.

Do not use blessed thistle during pregnancy.

There is not enough evidence to suggest blessed thistle is safe for breast-feeding women.

You should avoid using blessed thistle if you have an allergy or hypersensitivityhypersensitivityan exaggerated response to a substance or agent to it or to any ingredient of the formulation. You should also avoid using blessed thistle if you are allergic to members of the plant family Asteraceae/Compositae (such as ragweed, chrysanthemums [mums], marigolds, and daisies).

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Health Canada. Licensed Natural Health Products. Blessed Thistle. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=46&lang=eng (accessed 9 May 2016)
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard Monograph: Blessed Thistle. ©2013 (accessed 18 May 2014)
  3. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Blessed Thistle. ©2009. (accessed 18 May 2014)

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