Thistle is a type of flowering plant. It comes from the same family as chamomile. Different parts of the plant are used in the treatment of various ailments. It has been cultivated since Roman times. Thistle milk was also used for healing purposes in medieval times.
Milk thistle is an herb that especially supports liver health. You can buy milk thistle and drink its tea or consume supplements containing milk thistle. So, what is thistle, which has many benefits, and how is it used?
What is thistle?
- The scientific name of thistle is Silybum Marianum. This plant is also called Holy Virgin, Virgin Mary thistle and holy thistle. According to an old legend, a drop of Mary’s milk falls on the leaves of this plant. When the milk touches the leaves, white spots appear.
- Thistle is a one or two-year herbaceous plant with a length of 30-100 centimeters, sparsely hairy, angular stems.
- Its leaves are green with white veins. Its edges are spiny and deeply toothed. It has purple and white flowers. The flower head covered with flowers is at the top of the stem.
- Thistles grows near wetlands and at higher elevations. It grows mostly in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions. When the plant matures, the seeds are harvested with a wheat combine. The combine harvester separates the dry seeds from the mouth. The seeds are kept waiting to be sent to the buyer.
- The seed contains silymarin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also grown in Europe and America. It is common in America, especially in California.
So, what are the benefits of milk thistle? Let’s move on to the next subheading for the answers:
9 Useful Properties of Thistles You Didn’t Know About
Milk thistle is a medicinal plant with many benefits. As a result of the researches, the benefits of thistle are as follows.
1) Supports Liver Health
- Milk thistle is best known for its liver benefits.
- It is used as a supportive treatment in people whose livers have been damaged as a result of diseases such as liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis and even liver cancer.
- Studies have shown that milk thistle prevents the binding of toxic substances to the liver and improves liver function.
- It has been observed that liver patients who consume milk thistle supplements have improvements in liver function.
2) Fights Diabetes
- As a result of the researches, it has been revealed that thistle plant is beneficial for people with diabetes.
- Thistle stabilizes blood sugar.
- It prevents the progression of kidney damage caused by diabetes and helps control diabetes.
3) Beneficial for the Brain
- Thistle improves brain functions.
- It has been used as a medicine in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s for quite a long time.
- The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of milk thistle have a protective effect on neurons in the brain.
- This herb fights against the decline in brain functions seen with age.
4) Protects and Supports Bone Health
- Thistle is a plant that is good for bones.
- It can be used as a treatment to delay and prevent bone loss in women.
- It is good for osteoporosis, a disease caused by progressive bone loss.
- Osteoporosis causes extremely weak bones that can easily break even as a result of minor injuries.
- Milk thistle also has a protective effect against bone loss and strengthening bones.
5) Fights Cancer
- Milk thistle seed is a very good source of antioxidant flavonoids, which are composed of many active compounds.
- It strengthens the immune system. It fights DNA damage.
- Reverses cancerous tumor growth. It helps to reduce the risk of developing cancer. It blocks breast cancer.
- It also protects the body against many types of cancer, including lung and prostate cancer.
6) Good for High Cholesterol
- Thistle is very beneficial for heart health.
- It cleans the blood, reduces inflammation and prevents oxidative stress damage found in the arteries.
- It helps to lower high cholesterol levels.
7) Increases Breast Milk
- One of the most well-known benefits of milk thistle is that breastfeeding mothers can shed milk. It is thought to do this by making the milk-producing hormone prolactin.
- As a result of studies on this, it has been revealed that mothers who take silymarin in milk thistle produce more milk. Still, more research on this topic is needed.
8) Beneficial for Skin Health
- Milk thistle also draws attention in terms of its benefits to the skin. Thistle has skin protective properties.
- Studies have revealed that the beneficial ingredients in milk thistle are very effective in preventing oxidative stress caused by UV rays.
- Milk thistle herb is thought to be an inhibitor of UV-induced oxidative stress that causes a variety of skin conditions.
- It is also known that this herb helps reduce skin damage caused by radiation during cancer treatment.
- The antioxidant properties of the plant are also very beneficial for the health of the joints, eyes and muscles.
- Thanks to the antioxidants in milk thistle, it helps to prevent the damage of free radicals in the body. This prevents aging in the body.
- Milk thistle slows down the aging of both skin and internal organs. Thus, it reduces the risk of some serious diseases (kidney and liver diseases, heart disease, etc.).
How Is Thistle Tea Brewed and Consumed?
Milk thistle tea is very beneficial for the liver if consumed regularly. To see the benefits of tea, you should pay attention to regular consumption. Thistle tea can be made with 2 different recipes.
- 1 teaspoon milk thistle seeds
- 1 glass of water
- Crush the thistle seed into the crown.
- Steep in a glass of water for about 10 minutes.
- Then strain it.
- You can drink 1 – 2 cups of this tea a day.
- 1 thistle leaf or 1 root thistle or 3 pinch thistle seeds
- 1 liter of water
- Mix all the ingredients and boil in water for a few minutes.
- You can drink this recipe 3 times a day, half an hour before eating 1 tea glass.
How to Use Milk Thistle Oil?
- Milk thistle oil is obtained by cold pressing the seeds. It contains vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids and phenolic compounds.
- This oil is generally used to relieve respiratory ailments and protect liver health.
- It also contributes to the protection of cardiovascular health.
- It is also used as a moisturizer in skin care. However, it should be diluted with a carrier oil beforehand.
- Thistle oil has a short shelf life. Therefore, it is mixed with different oils.
- It has a mild taste. It can be added to salads and meals.
- It can also be consumed as tea by adding a few drops to hot water.
Thistle Harms and Side Effects
- When milk thistle and thistle herb are used in excess, the plant can bring a number of side effects.
- Thistle allergy can also be seen in people who are allergic to plants in the artichoke, kiwi, chamomile and aster family. If you have this type of allergy, you can consult a specialist before using thistle.
- We mentioned that milk thistle lowers blood sugar. For this reason, those who use drugs that regulate blood sugar levels should consume thistle carefully.
- Milk thistle may interact with some medications that affect the liver. For this reason, if you are using a regular medication, you should consult a doctor beforehand.
Other possible side effects of milk thistle are as follows:
- Abdominal bloating
- Joint pain
- sexual dysfunction