Scientific Name/Common Name: Cnicus benedictus / Blessed Thistle
Part(s) Used: Dried herb and flowers
Constituents/Active Ingredients: Bitter substances of the sesquiterpene lactone type, including cnicin. The seed contains lignan lactones, such as trachelogenin, that also contribute to the bitterness of the herb. The plant also contains: up to 0.3% essential oil which includes n-paraffin, aromatic aldehydes (cinnamaldehyde, benzaldehyde, cuminaldehyde); phenylpropanes; benzoic acid; monoterpenes (citronellol, fenchone, p-cymene, citral, and others); and flavonoids.
Overview: Blessed Thistle is a low annual plant, up to 40 cm, with thistle-like appearance. Through its bitter properties, blessed thistle increases the flow of gastric juices relieving dyspepsia, indigestion, and headaches associated with liver congestion. British and German Pharmacopoeias recognize that ‘bitters’, including blessed thistle, stimulate bile flow and cleanse the liver. In Europe, blessed thistle, as a “bitter vegetable drug” is considered to be a medicinal agent used to stimulate appetite, aid digestion, and promote health. Studies confirm that bitters increase gastric juice and bile acid secretions by increasing the flow of saliva through stimulation of specific receptors on the mucous membrane lining of the mouth.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Used to stimulate appetite and as a digestive tonic. A bitter herb to support the health of the liver and stimulate bile flow. Relieves dyspepsia/indigestion. Also traditionally used as an expectorant to help relieve cold symptoms such as excessive catarrh.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Cnici benedicti herba – Holy Thistle (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 153-154.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Bradley PR, editor. 1992. British Herbal Compendium: A Handbook of Scientific Information on Widely Used Plant Drugs, Volume 1. Bournemouth (GB): British Herbal Medicine Association.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.