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Herbs > Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)

Also know as Holy thistle or Holy Ghost herb, Blessed thistle looks very similar to the common thistle and often seen as a stubborn weed, however, it is a useful healing herb.

It was regarded as a heal-all in medieval times, believed to cure even the plague. The name "blessed thistle" stems from the belief that it repelled psychic attacks and hexes. It has an unproved reputation as an aphrodisiac, and was also used as birth control by the Quinault Indians.

Healing uses:
Blessed thistle is extremely effective for promoting breast milk in nursing mothers. Drink a mild infusion of the herb about 30 minutes before breast feeding for a one-off boost to the quantity of milk produced. To make the infusion, boil 500ml of water, remove from the heat and add 1 level tablespoon of dried, ground blessed thistle. Allow to steep for 30 minutes, strain and drink. Alternatively, 2 capsules of powdered blessed thistle taken three times daily throughout the breast-feeding period will improve the amount of milk produced consistently.

It is effective for other women’s problem, including menstrual cramps and hormone balance. It will also ease the effects of menopause. Take as an infusion, as described.

In addition, this infusion helps balance the stomach and stimulate the appetite. It can also ease headaches and strengthen the memory, as it increases the oxygen supply to the brain.

Blessed thistle is a powerful emetic, and so should be avoided in large doses. However, this can be a useful application of the herb - it will induce vomiting to hastily expel poisons from the body. Make an infusion as described, using double the amount of blessed thistle.

Cautions:
Large amounts of blessed thistle will cause vomiting.

Growing blessed thistle:
Blessed thistle is grown from seed, which should be sown in the Spring. It is a very hardy plant, but it prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It should be harvested when it is flowering. Cut the whole plant at ground level and dry hanging upside down. The blessed thistle will regrow from the roots.




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