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Blessed Thistle

Common Name: Blessed Thistle Blessed Thistle Flower
Genus:  Cnicus                 
Species: benedictus            
Family: Asteraceae
AKA:  Holy thistle, Carduus benedictus

Historical Uses:

Medical:

Blessed Thistle taken in meat or drinke, is good for the swimming and giddinesse of the head, it strengtheneth memorie, and is a singular remedie against deafnesse. The same boiled in wine and drunke hot, healeth the griping paines of the belly, killeth and expelleth wormes, causeth sweat, provoketh urine, and driueth out gravel, clenseth the stomack, and is very good against the fever quartaine. The juice of the said Carduus is singular good against all poison. The powder of the leaves ministred in the quantitie of half a dram, is good against the pestilence, if it be received within 24 hours after taking of the sickness (1).

Thistle is warm. Let whoever has eaten or drunk poison pulverize the head, roots and leaves of thistle.  Consume this powder either in food or drink; it will expel the poison.  If someone has a rash on the body, let the person mix this powder with fresh fat and anoint himself or herself with it; the person will be healed (2).

From Culpepper: It is a herb of Mars, and under the Sign Aries. It helps swimmings and giddiness in the head, or the disease called vertigo, because Aries is the House of Mars. It is an excellent remedy against yellow jaundice and other infirmities of the gall, because Mars governs choller. It strengthens the attractive faculty in man, and clarifies the blood, because the one is ruled by Mars. The continual drinking the decoction of it helps red faces, tetters and ringworm, because Mars causeth them. It helps plague-sores, boils and itch, the bitings of mad dogs and venomous beasts, all which infirmities are under Mars. Thus you see what it doth by sympathy. 'By Antypathy to other Planets: it cures the French Pox by Antypathy to Venus who governs it. It strengthens the memory and cures deafness by Antypathv to Saturn, who hath his fall in Aries which Rules the Head. It cures Quarten Agues and other diseases of Melancholy, and a dust Choller by Sympathy to Saturn, Mars being exalted in Capricorn. Also it provokes Urine, the stopping of which is usually caused by Mars or the Moon (3).

Other:

The name Cnicus comes from the Greek knekos meaning thistle, which in turn may be derived from chnizein, “to injure” referring tom the plant’s extreme prickliness (4).  Originally cultivated in monastery gardens as a medicinal herb, was once regarded as a cure-all, and in the 16th century was recommended for the plague (5).

Folklore/Astrology:

Plant belongs to Mars. By antipathy to the influence of Venus, it strengthens the memory and, in opposition, to Saturn, cures deafness (6).

Contemporary Uses:(7)

Parts Used:

Flower tops

Medicinal:

A very bitter antiseptic, antibiotic herb that acts mainly as a digestive tonic. It is also a mild expectorant, checks bleeding, encourages healing, lowers fevers, and stimulates lactation.  Internally for anorexia, poor appetite associated with depression, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, diarrhea, excess mucus and insufficient lactation. (6).

Cautions:

Sharp spines.

Plant Characteristics

Area of Origin: Mediterranean region into Iran
Physical description:
Plant type: Annual
Form:
Height: 10”-26”
Flower color: Yellow
Flowering period: Summer
Soil type/requirements: Well-drained soil
Fruit: Brown, ribbed fruits
Hardiness zone: Hardy annual
Sun requirements: Full sun
Propagation: By seed in spring
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Bibliography
1.    Gerard, p. 1171
2.    Von Bingen, p. 91
3.    Culpeper, p. 179
4.    Bown, p. 174
5.    Ibid
6.    Anderson, p. 83
7.    Bown, p. 174

Illustrations:
1.    Drach Herbal    1490-1495
2.    PSUMG    2011
3.    PSUMG    2011
4.    PSUMG    2011