Wednesday Wisdom - Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle - Silybum marianum
Common names: Marian Thistle, Mary's Thistle.
Habitat: Originated in western and central Europe, but now grows wild in dry and rocky places in southern and western Europe, throughout the USA, South America and Australia. It is easily cultivated.
Part used: Seeds.
Actions of Milk Thistle: Anthelmintic, antispasmodic, expectorant, antimicrobial, astringent, carminative.
Milk Thistle is most famous for its ability to protect and improve liver function, and to speed up the regeneration of liver cells. It increases bile secretions from the liver. Milk Thistle seed has undergone extensive trials in Europe and the US. It has been shown to lower fat deposits in the liver of animals and to be able to protect the liver from damage by drugs and poisons. Milk Thistle seed has been used on horses and ponies that are suffering from liver damage due to worm burden, or prolonged use of drugs. It is an excellent herb to be given in the spring as a tonic and to help strengthen the liver. It is slowly absorbed by the body, so it necessary to give the seeds for 4-6 weeks. It is interesting to note that the seeds of the Milk Thislte are high in linoleic acid- up to 60%. It is this acid that has proved so successful in helping to regulate female hormonal balance and is better know as being the active ingredient in evening primrose oil.