Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)

Parts used and where grown: 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.

In what conditions might blessed thistle be supportive?

¥ indigestion and heartburn

¥ poor appetite

Historical or traditional use: 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.1

Active constituents: 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 digestion.2 There is some evidence that blessed thistle also has anti-inflammatory properties.

How much should I take? 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.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Blessed thistle is relatively safe and free from side effects. Anyone with allergies to plants in the daisy family should use blessed thistle cautiously.


1. Lust JB. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974, 343. 2. Bradley PR, ed. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 126-7.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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