Principal Proposed Uses
- Poor Appetite
Blessed thistle has a long history of use in European herbal medicine. All parts of the above-ground plant are used medicinally. The herb was used primarily for digestive problems, including heartburn, gastritis, burping, constipation, and flatulence. Blessed thistle was also used for liver and gallbladder diseases. Blessed thistle is also a component of the famous herbal combination therapy Essiac, widely used (though without scientific support) as a treatment for cancer .
What is Blessed Thistle Used for Today?
Blessed thistle contains the bitter constituent cnicin. Bitter substances are widely believed to promote appetite, though this has not been proven.
Cnicin does appear to have antimicrobial properties, killing bacteria and fungi in the test tube. 1,2 These findings do not, however, indicate that blessed thistle can be used as an oral antibiotic. Antibiotics are substances that can be taken into the body at high enough doses to kill microbes throughout the system. In contrast, blessed thistle extracts, like those of many plants, appear to have antiseptic properties, meaning that they kill microbes on direct contact.
A typical dose of blessed thistle is 2 grams two or three times daily.
Although comprehensive safety studies have not been performed, blessed thistle is believed to be safe. However, cross-reactions are possible among people allergic to plants in the daisy family.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
- EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Reviewed: 09/2014
- Updated: 09/18/2014
All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.