Blessed Thistle Benefits

Blessed Thistle
Latin Name

Cnicus benedictus

Also Known As

Holy Thistle, Saint Benedict Thistle, Carbenia Benedicta, Spotted Thistle


South Europe to west Asia

Parts Used

Dried aerial parts and seeds

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Blessed Thistle is said to have obtained its name from its wonderful reputation as a heal all, even purported to cure the plague during the Middle Ages. According to the herbalist Steven Horne, thistles are warrior plants by nature – they are difficult to eradicate, hard to dig up and resistant to herbicides. However, although neither gentle nor friendly, he believes they are there for our benefit. They are edible, making them an outstanding survival food. They tend to grow where the environment has been damaged, keeping animals and people away whilst the land heals, and they have medicinal properties that are primarily associated with the liver - the organ that defends our blood stream against toxins.

Blessed Thistle Benefits

Liver Protection

Classed as a cholagogue herb, Blessed Thistle stimulates the production of bile which assists in detoxification of the liver. This in turn leads to a decrease in symptoms associated with poor liver function such as; fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and brain fog. This liver supportive herb is often recommended to people who need to regain their appetite when recovering from illness or from certain treatments known to cause loss of appetite.

Digestive Health

The above mentioned stimulation of bile will in turn stimulate the production of gastric juices and saliva. This allows the body to digest fat more effectively, thus reducing cholesterol and helping to prevent gall stones. Blessed Thistle is also high in sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin - these lactones are reported to stimulate digestive activity by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes which leads to improved digestion and appetite.


Two compounds found in Blessed Thistle - polyacetylene and cnicin - can help your body battle bacterial infections. Some studies have shown these compounds to be effective against Bacillus subtilis, Brucella species, Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis.


Blessed Thistle has anti-inflammatory characteristics that have been observed to decrease or completely cease inflammation in addition to helping to remedy infections. This action is again thought to be due to the plant compound cnicin which is known to have anti-inflammatory activity. Nevertheless, persons with inflammatory bowel problems shouldn’t take this herb before getting the opinion of their personal health-care professional. 

Stimulates Milk Supply

There is some controversy surrounding this herb's ability to act a galactagogue (to increase milk supply). However, in a study by Tim Fei Sim et al, it was concluded that the most effective of the herbal galactagogues were Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle taken together. The findings of this study also identified a need for more scientific evaluation of these herbs and provided directions for subsequent research in this field. 

Typical Use

Herbal Tea: 1 tsp dried herb per 1 cup of boiling water up to 3 times a day.
Tincture: 1-2 ml up to 3 times a day.
Or as directed by a herbal practitioner

Folklore and History

Many wonder why this thistle has the title of ‘Blessed’ as a prefix to its common name. In one of the legends of King Charlemagne, the king of the Franks in the 1st century, it is said that his army was dying of the plague when campaigning for control of Western Europe. Fearing that he would lose the war an angel appeared in his dreams and told him to shoot an arrow into the air and whichever plant the arrow landed he should feed to his troops. Charlemagne did as the heavenly messenger instructed and his arrow landed in a big patch of thistle. Having given his army the thistle to eat, all were saved from the plague and continued to fight the war. This particular thistle became known as blessed from this moment on.

Blessed Thistle

The sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin, provide the main beneficial effects of Blessed Thistle.


Although generally safe, Blessed Thistle may cause vomiting and stomach irritation when taken in very large doses. In addition, anyone allergic to plants in the family of Asteraceae should take precaution in taking this herbal treatment.

Not recommended during pregnancy.