Blessed Thistle

Cnicus benedictus


Blessed thistle, native to Asia and Europe, is also known as Our Lady’s milk thistle or holy thistle. It gained its name “blessed” from its ability to heal-all. Grandmothers say this herb confers a blessing on all who grow, gather or use it. Infusion of dried blessed thistle, or tincture of the fresh flowering tops, is highly regarded as a tonifying stimulant to fluid flows in the body. When I want a digestive bitter and tonic, I sip a cupful of cold blessed thistle infusion, or use 10-20 drops of tincture. The warm dried plant infusion is tonic to the heart and circulation.

Consistent use of blessed thistle strengthens the brain and memory and helps clear depression. A student of mine saw unmistakable antidepressant effects when taking blessed thistle daily. It also improved her energy. A few drops of blessed thistle tincture promotes abundant milk in nursing mothers - in fact it is my favorite herb for this purpose. It also stimulates and regulates menstruation and is helpful during menopause.

First Nations people use this herb to expel parasites, as an emmenagogue and an emetic. Quinault women drink an infusion of the leaves and flowers as a contraceptive.

I consider blessed thistle an ally when dealing with lung congestion or bronchial infection of any kind. I sip the infusion to help clear phlegm and tone the entire respiratory system. And I have called upon blessed thistle to treat a headache or migraine and to help bring down a fever. A well-strained blessed thistle infusion can be applied as an antiseptic wash on cuts, scrapes, bruises or wounds, and the strained plant material then used as a poultice to help the healing process.

Blessed thistle contains calcium, chromium, potassium, selenium and carotenes. It also offers stores of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and B vitamins. Among its constituents are volatile oils, resins, glycosides, the bitter sesquiterpene lactone ester cnicin, tannin, mucilage, sugars and starch. We eat the young spring leaves of blessed thistle like watercress with bread and butter. The tonifying benefits of blessed thistle are gained by ingesting it in moderate portions: no more than one cupful of infusion daily, 10-20 drops of the tincture.

Flower Essence Blessed thistle flower essence helps manifest ideas into reality, just as the energy of the Green Man stirs seeds into sprouting.

Magical Lore Blessed thistle is an herb of protection. Its presence in an area is said to invoke the god Pan. Keep blessed thistle in a special bag to ensure endurance and the ability to survive any test. Place thistles at the cardinal directions to strengthen prayers of healing for an animal.

Culture I love growing blessed thistle and wouldn’t consider an herb garden without it. At first glance, it's rather insignificant, but closer examination proves it quite intriguing. The plant stays low to the ground and begins to sprawl around midsummer. The flowers are the thing! Easy to miss, they look like fat artichokes in a bud, with a bit of yellow fuzz at the top. Later, they develop lots of golden, needle-like crisscrosses that dry completely intact, keeping their color beautifully.

I believe what the wild hearted grandmothers say about blessed thistle conferring blessings, so I take everyone who visits my garden to see this beneficial plant. In the fall I give seeds away so others can start their own blessed thistle patch. It’s very easy to grow. Put blessed thistle seeds directly into the garden in spring. They enjoy a sunny spot and a good helping of well-rotted compost. I harvest the young, fresh leaves of blessed thistle when they are vibrant, eating them in salads or sandwiches. I gather the entire aboveground portion of the plant during flowering and tincture immediately in alcohol or vinegar, or dry it on screens or in bunches.

WARNING! In large doses, blessed thistle can cause vomiting.


Opening Prayer - Mother of God, Mother of Mothers, Mother of all the children of the world, Mother of Sacred Plants and Trees and Flowers, birds and bugs, we honor you. We call on you to show us your mercy. Shower us with healing blessings, hold your lamp high to light our path along the Blessing way, the spirit healing path, the path to true peace, health and happiness. Thank you. Amen


Blessed Thistle, Cnicus benedictus, is also known as Saint Benedicts Thistle…the flower, all criss-crossed the way it is with golden cross-like threads, is associated with the protection and exorcism power of this saint. Invoke the help of Saint Benedict when using this herb for healing. Saint Benedict is the patron of students and monks and he is known as the patron saint of exorcisms, as well as for his powerful abilities of intercession and protection


Saint Benedict’s Rule, which guided all the monastic communities of Europe throughout the middle ages conveyed a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness. Following the golden rule of Ora et Labora – pray and work, the monks devoted eight hours of each day to prayer, eight hours to sleep, and eight hours to manual work, sacred reading and/or works of charity.




Dear Saint Benedict, I thank God for showering you with His grace to love Him above all else and to establish a monastic rule that has helped so many of His children live full and holy lives. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, I ask you to please intercede that God might protect me, my loved ones, my home, property, possessions, and workplace today and always by your holy blessing, that we may never be separated from Jesus, Mary, and the company of all the blessed saints. Through your intercession may we be delivered from temptation, spiritual oppression, physical ills, and disease. Protect us from drug and alcohol abuse, impurity and immorality, objectionable companions, and negative attitudes. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 


Another prayer to Saint Benedict: Admirable Saint and Doctor of Humility, you practiced what you taught, assiduously praying for God's glory and lovingly fulfilling all work for God and the benefit of all human beings. You know the many physical dangers that surround us today often caused or occasioned by human inventions. Guard us against poisoning of the body as well as of mind and soul, and thus be truly a "Blessed" one for us. Amen.


There is a sign that goes with this prayer for healing and protection, dispelling and exorcism. It is called the Cross of Saint Benedict, it’s a circle with an equidistant cross inside of it that reaches to the circle. Write the prayer out and draw the image and keep it in a magic bag or box, or give it to a client in need of it.


Since Blessed Thistle is dedicated to Blessed Mother Mary, you can alternately address all healing/protection requests to her as well.


When using Milk thistle, Silybum marianum we offer prayers to Blessed Mother…Any of the three Marian prayers will serve well here…The Ave Maria. the Memorare or Salve Regina.  A sign to use with these prayers/offerings is the spiral.


Ending Blessing: Holy Woman, you who are the phases of the moon and the stars and the sun and the earth and all of its life forms and creatures…we honor you. Please help us to connect with our true purpose, our life mission and to move toward that bravely, for the benefit of all. Amen


© 2022, Gail Faith Edwards


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