Nature`s Way Blessed Thistle. Blessed thistle leaves, stems, and flowers have traditionally been used in "bitter" tonic drinks and in other preparations taken by mouth to enhance appetite and digestion. Blessed thistle may also be included in the herbal remedy Essiac. This herb has been tested in laboratory studies for its properties against infections, cancer, and inflammation with promising results.
It has sometimes been used as a herb to promote lactation.
Blessed Thistle, Cnicus benedictus L. [Fam. Asteraceae], is a low annual plant, up to 40cm, 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. Traditionally in most countries, including England, Germany, Russia, China, India and Africa, `bitters` are used to strengthen and tonify the body. Certain bitter flavonoids found in the leaves, stems and barks of many plants, particularly the oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), have indeed been shown to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries thereby improving overall blood circulation. OPCs have also been shown to bind to collagen and prevent its degradation by enzymes and free radicals and aid in the repair of damaged collagen and elastin. Blessed thistle extracts also have anti-bacterial activity. Research on blessed thistle herb has demonstrated antibiotic properties for: 1) cnicin, 2) the essential oil and 3) the polyacetylenes contained in the herb. The essential oil has bacteriostatic action against Staphylococcus aureus, S. faecalis, but not E. Coli. Research on blessed thistle has demonstrated that cnicin has considerable activity for stimulating cellular regeneration, detoxification and cleansing. The lignans arctiin and arctigenin, also found in burdock seed (Arctium lappa L.), are also noted for this activity and are platelet activating factor (PAF) antagonists and anti-HIV as well. Cnicin also has antinflammatory activity.
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