Holy Thistle


Jenny FloresMarch and April are perfect months to forage for thistle. I know the plant by the name Holy Thistle (Silybum marianum), but it is also called Lady's Thistle, Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle, Milk Thistle and Wild Artichoke. Regardless of what you call it, it's health benefits are amazing and the taste is outstanding.

Thistle has many medicinal properties. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. It is immunostimulating and hepaprotective.

Thistle is indicated for alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver poisoning and viral hepatitis. It is beneficial for adrenal disorders and IBS. Thistle offers protection to the liver when taking strong medication. It helps prevent Candida and food allergies.

Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast, ovary, or uterine cancer should not take thistle due to its possible estrogenic effects. Men with prostate cancer should not take thistle without first talking to their doctor.

I think, whenever possible, it is best to eat the whole food. Thistle is often considered a weed so it is definitely not hard to find this time of year. When harvesting, wear long sleeves and gloves. It is as prickly as it looks! The leaves and stalks are edible. The leaves can be steamed just like spinach. My favorite is the stem. Peel the stalk (it is stringy like celery). Chop and put in salad – lettuce, chicken or tuna. I have also thrown a handful of raw stalk in okra cornbread. Delicious!

harvesting thistle 

3/22/2015 8:09:14 AM

Jenny, really? We call it Canadian Thistle here in Nebraska and it's considered a noxious weed that needs to be eradicated. In fact in the city I live in if they are found growing on a land owner's property the city will mandate a fine to the owner. Now I find it has amazing medicinal properties. I'm learning that every plant in nature has a reason for being there. Even those itchy burning nettle weeds have some good qualities in tea and the dreaded urban lawn dandelion .... great health qualities. Some times we should just try to learn more about nature's ways, don't you think? ***** Have a great healthy thistle eating day.

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