Milk Thistle, or Silybum marianum is an annual or biennial plant that is a member of the Asteraceae family. It can also be referred to as Scotch thistle, variegated thistle, blessed milk thistle, Marian thistle, cardus marianus, Saint Mary’s thistle, Mary Thistle, Holy Thistle, Lady’s Thistle, and the Mediterranean milk thistle. The species name marianum came from Catholic Germany. It was said that the usefulness of the milk thistle was second only to calling on the Mother Mary, and that the white mottling on the leaves was the touch of the Virgin Mary’s milk. The milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean, however now it can also be found in Europe and throughout North America. Milk Thistle has been used for over 2,000 years for its many medicinal purposes. Did you know that milk thistle can be used as an antidote for deathcap mushroom poisoning?
This plant can grow anywhere from 11 inches to up to 3 feet tall. This stout plant has a branched stem, and leaves that are green in color. They are oblong and narrow in shape with spiny edges and have milk-white veins. The upper leaves of the plant actually clasp onto the stem. The flowers of the milk thistle can grow anywhere from 1 and a half to 4 inches wide, and are a light purple in color.
Milk thistle can be used in many different products and industries. It can be used in various types of products like soap making, skin care, bath and body products, culinary purposes, and hair care. Common bath and body products that can include milk thistle are soaps, hair conditioners, ointments, lotions, creams, facial toners, massage oils, bath bombs, scrubs, facial masks, lip balms, and bath teas.
In order for milk thistle to grown properly, it needs specific conditions. The milk thistle prefers to be grown in areas with full sun exposure, however it can still thrive when planted in areas with only partial exposure. It also prefers to be in areas with dry and rocky soils, although it can do well in most types of soils. It does especially well in areas like pastures that have been not been properly managed or other waste places. Milk thistle grows best in soils with pH levels of 6.6 to 7.8. It thrives when planted in areas with temperatures from around 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The seeds should be planted about 24 to 36 inches apart. This will give each plant enough room to grow. They should be planted about ¼ to ½ an inch deep. Once the seeds have been planted, they will begin to grow after about 7 to 14 days, although sometimes the process can take up to three weeks. They should be planted during the spring time. Each plant will begin to flower during late spring through mid-summer time.
Pests and diseases can have a negative effect on milk thistle. Aphids can possibly cause serious problems, as well as leafhoppers, tarnished plant bugs, and alfalfa plant bugs. Spider mites and thrips can also hurt the plant as well as the beetleaf weevil and the grey corn weevil. The milk thistle is also susceptible to botrytis grey mold and powdery mildew.
Uses in Industries
The entire milk thistle can be used in the food industry. The leaves, flowers, roots, and even the stalks of the plant can all be eaten. Milk thistle can be used as an ingredient for salads or used like rhubarb or asparagus. The leaves can even be used as a substitute for spinach, and the roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute.
Bath and Body Products
Milk thistle can be used for many different products and industries. Aside from its many food uses, it can also be used for bath and body products, skin care, hair care, and soap making. When used in homemade cosmetic recipes, milk thistle works to regenerate the cells and moisturize the skin.
Milk thistle can be used in body products like soap, scrubs, lip balms, lotions and hair conditioners.
There are many wonderful hair care benefits to using milk thistle. This amazing herb works to moisturize the hair, promotes new hair growth, and strengthens and protects the hair follicles. Milk thistle also works to prevent hair loss.
When used for skin care, milk thistle works to improve cell regeneration, moisturize the skin, and works to treat many skin conditions like acne and eczema. Milk thistle also works to hydrate and soften the skin, give it a beautiful glow, fights the signs of aging, and helps to cleanse the skin of any materials that can cause blemishes or other marks.
Milk thistle is also used in the medical industry. It contains many minerals and a variety of vitamins that the body needs such as Vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and many powerful flavonoids. It also has many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In Chinese medicine, milk thistle was used to promote bile flow, soothe the liver, and to clear the body of any toxic materials.
Some herbalists prescribe milk thistle as a way to treat many liver conditions like jaundice, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Milk thistle works to repair and prevent any damage to the liver.
Milk thistle can even be used as a way to treat and prevent cancer. It works to reduce the growth of many liver, breast, colon, lung, prostate, cervical, and renal tumors.
For women, milk thistle works to reduce hot flashes and many other symptoms brought on by menopause. It also works to increase breast milk flow in nursing mothers and helps to start the menstrual flow.
Milk thistle has many heart benefits. It works to lower cholesterol levels, reduce heart burn, and even works to reduce the discomfort caused by heart burn.
Conditions that can be treated using milk thistle include allergies, inflammation, stomach pains, cramping, vomiting, nausea, pleurisy, gallbladder problems, loss of appetite, malaria, uterine problems, spleen diseases, and depression.
Did you know that milk thistle can even be used to help cure a hangover?
Nature’s Garden sells milk thistle seed powder for external use only. We do not sell them as a food item. The information above talks about how great milk thistle is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
Be sure to check out all of our awesome free recipes and classes!