Carline Thistle

Scientific Name/Common Name: Carlina acaulis / Carline thistle

Part(s) Used: Root

Constituents/Active Ingredients: 1.5-2% essential oil containing approximately 80% carlina oxide (benzyl-2-furylacetylene) and about 15% carilene. The root also contains 18-22% inulin; bitter substances of the sesquiterpene lactone type; palmitic acid; tannins; resins; and flavonoids.

Overview: Carline thistle is a short-stemmed perennial herb, often called stemless carline thistle, native to the mountains of central and southern Europe. The low-growing plant has spiny, toothed leaves and attractive off-white flowers encompassed by sharp silvery bracts giving it a characteristic thistle-like appearance. Through its bitter properties, carline thistle root increases the flow of gastric juices relieving dyspepsia and gastrointestinal upsets associated with digestive organ congestion. German authorities recognize that ‘bitters’, including carline thistle root, stimulate bile flow and cleanse the liver of fatty deposits. In Europe, carline thistle root is rarely used today, except as a component of the gastrointestinal remedy, Swedish Bitters. Carline thistle root tea is listed in the German Commission E monographs as a diuretic and was used in folk medicine for treating digestive disorders, inducing sweating and as a gargle for treating catarrh (mucous) of the upper respiratory tract.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: For digestive disorders; liver congestion; as a diuretic; antibacterial.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Carlinae radix – Stemless carlina root (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 126-127.

Kernoczi Z, Hethelyi E, Danos B, Tetenyi P. 1987. Presence of carlina oxide in plants of Hungary. Stabilization and antimicrobial effect. Acta Pharm Hung. 1987 Jul; 57(3-4): 171-81.


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