Part Used: Dried flowering herb
Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is an annual yellow flowered herb, growing to about 60 cm tall with small spines on the leaves margin. The brown stem is hairy and erect. The lance shaped leaves have a spiny edges and may be either lobed or cleft (deeply cut.). It belongs to the composite family, used in herbal medicine.
Folk medicine utilized Blessed Thistle tea for digestive problems, including gas, constipation, and stomach upset. This herb was also used for liver and gallbladder diseases, in a similar way as its well-known relative, Milk Thistle. The sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin, provide the main beneficial effects of Blessed Thistle. The bitterness of these compounds stimulates digestive activity, including the flow of saliva and secretion of gastric juice, which leads to improved appetite and digestions. There is some evidence that Blessed Thistle also has anti-inflammatory properties. Laboratory studies report that Blessed Thistle (and chemicals in Blessed Thistle such as cnicin and polyacetylene) has activity against several types of bacteria and no effects on some types.
Blessed Thistle is taken by mouth to relieve indigestion and diarrhea. It may also be taken to improve appetite. It is used to strengthen the heart, and is useful in all remedies for lung, kidney, and especially liver problems. It is also used as a brain food for stimulating the memory. It is used in remedies for menopause and for menstrual cramping. This herb is often used by lactating women to stimulate blood flow to the mammary glands and to increase the flow of milk. It has sometimes been used as a herb to promote lactation. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid taking Blessed Thistle because not enough is known about how it might affect developing babies or infants.
Encyclopedia of Herbs. http://www.allnatural.net/herbpages/blessed-thistle.shtml