Flower heads, harvested before the flowers open, have been used as a globe artichoke Cynara cardunculus substitute. The flower heads are rather small and using them in this way is very fiddly[K]. Root - boiled as a pot herb. The herb is used as a flavouring[, ] the part that is used is not specified. Medicinal Uses Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
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Blessed thistle, Holy thistle 1,2,3,5,6 Whole herb Cnici benedicti herba - leaves and flowering tops 1,2,3,4,5,6 Botany Blessed thistle is an erect annual with a slender red spiny stem growing up to 0. The leaves are amplexicaul clasping the stem , somewhat decurrent, leathery, with the irregular teeth of the wavy margin ending in spines.
The upper leaves are sessile; the lower ones petioled. The flower heads are yellow and surrounded by spine-tipped bracts. The whole plant, leaves, stalks and also the flowerheads, are covered with a thin down. Blessed thistle originated in the Mediterranean region. This plant flourishes on dry stony ground and in open areas.
It grows more compactly in some soils than in others. The commercial product comes from eastern and southern Europe. The leaves and flowering tops are collected in summer 1,2,3,4.
History Historically, blessed thistle was regarded as a cure for the bubonic plague 3,4,7. Vogel suggests that the name benedictus may refer to the Benedictine monks who used blessed thistle during the Middle Ages to treat the Plague.
Traditionally, blessed thistle has been used to treat anorexia, dyspepsia 1,2,3,5,6,7 , flatulence, indigestion 3,5,7 , diarrhoea 5,7 , dysmenorrhoea 7 , migraine 3,5 , to stimulate lactation 3,5,7 and for wound healing 2,4,7. It has also been used as an abortifacient 7. Major Active Constituents The biological activity of blessed thistle is ascribed mainly to the principal bitter constituents - sesquiterpene lactone glycosides of the germacrane type 2,4,5,7.
The main constituent is cnicin 0. Salonitenolide has also been found to be present 9. Lignan lactones such as trachelogenin and arctigenin may contribute to the bitter characteristics of blessed thistle 2,7. Pharmacology Anti-microbial effects The sesquiterpene lactone cnicin has a structure allowing it to form covalent bonds with proteins. This is due to the a-methylen-?
In vitro studies observing the effects of cnicin and the essential oil of blessed thistle against Bacillus subtilis, Brucella species, Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphyloccoccus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis show that these constituents possess antibacterial activity against these strains, suggesting a broad spectrum of anti-microbial activity 13,14, There have been studies investigating several lignans in Cnicus benedictus as possible anti-HIV and anti-cancer agents 20,21,25,26 but so far the evidence remains unclear.
Anti-inflammatory effects Pharmacokinetic studies show that following oral ingestion of blessed thistle by rats, the lignans arctiin and tracheloside are metabolized to their genins, arctigenin and trachelogenin Studies on rats indicate that these lignans appear to exert inhibitory effects on cyclic AMP, phosphodiesterase, and histamine release in mast cells Cnicin has demonstrated mild anti-inflammatory effects in the standard rat paw model of inflammation Platelet activating factor PAF antagonist activities have also been observed, as well as antagonist action against calcium ions Anti-proliferative effects Studies investigating the antineoplastic and cytotoxic effect of constituents in blessed thistle have been done, investigating the effects against some tumour cell lines including leukemia HL , hepatomas, and sarcomas.
These studies indicate that the constituents cnicin and arctigenin exhibit anti-tumour activity via inhibition of cellular DNA, RNA or protein synthesis 15,18,19,20,21,22, Differentiation in mouse myeloid leukaemia cell lines has been observed due to arctigenin activity Clinical Outcome Studies No results were found through Medline search.
Anecdotally, blessed thistle has also been recommended for cervical dysplasia 7 , diarrhoea, haemorrhage 5,7 , and dysmenorrhoea 7. Contra-indications and Cautions Blessed thistle should be avoided during pregnancy due to the potential emmenagogue and abortifacient properties 4,5,7.
Although blessed thistle has traditionally been used to stimulate lactation, there is a paucity of safety information, so it is currently not recommended for this use 7. Traditionally, blessed thistle is believed to increase GIT secretions 4,7 and should therefore be used with caution in cases of peptic ulcer 7.
This is believed to be due to the sesquiterpene lactones. Blessed thistle may cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. Posology Recommended doses are based on historical practice. Adult dose: Tincture: 7. Infusion: 1. Infusion should be drunk cold as a tonic, and warm as a diaphoretic and emmenagogue 1. Tea: 1. Bitter in taste 7. Large doses are emetic 1,3,4,5. Poultice: Flowerheads 5. Children: Safety and efficacy data for children is lacking, and blessed thistle is generally not recommended in infancy or early childhood 7.
References 1. Sandy, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications. Medicinal Plants of the World. Pretoria: Briza. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal.
Surrey: Merchant. Chevalier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley. Bartram T. London: Robinson. Blumenthal M ed. The German Commission E monographs. Austin,Texas: American Botanical Council. Natural Standard Monograph. Natural Standard Inc. Accessed 17 September Cnicus benedictus L. Blessed Thistle. Bioforce CA. Accessed 21 September Vanhaelen-Fastre R. Planta Medica ; Kataria H. Phytochemical investigation of medicinal plant Cnicus wallichii and Cnicus benedictus L.
Asian J Chem ; Ulbelen A and Berkan T. Triterpenic and steroidal compounds of Cnicus benedictus. Vanhaelen M and Vanhaelen-Fastre R. Lactonic lignans from Cnicus benedictus. Phytochemistry ; Vanhaelen-Fastre, R. J Pharm Belg. Planta Medica ;24 2 Planta Medic ;29 2 Nose, M. Structural transformation of lignan compounds in rat gastroin-testinal tract; II. Serum concentration of lignans and their metabolites. Planta Medica ;59 2 Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for antiinflammatory activity.
Phytother Res ; Barrero, A. Biomimetic cyclization of cnicin to malacitanolide, a cytotoxic eudesmanolide from Centaurea malacitana. J Nat Prod. Cobb E. Antineoplastic agent from Cnicus benedictus.
Patent Brit ; Eich, E. J Med Chem ;39 1 Hirano, T. Natural flavonoids and lignans are potent cytostatic agents against human leu-kemic HL cells. Life Sci ;55 13 Cytotoxic components of Bardanae Fructus Goboshi.
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Blessed thistle, Holy thistle 1,2,3,5,6 Whole herb Cnici benedicti herba - leaves and flowering tops 1,2,3,4,5,6 Botany Blessed thistle is an erect annual with a slender red spiny stem growing up to 0. The leaves are amplexicaul clasping the stem , somewhat decurrent, leathery, with the irregular teeth of the wavy margin ending in spines. The upper leaves are sessile; the lower ones petioled. The flower heads are yellow and surrounded by spine-tipped bracts.
It is a common ingredient in combination formulas for gastric health. Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cytotoxic activities have been reported and thought to be due to the chemical constituent cnicin. However, there are no clinical trials to support these potential uses. Dosing No clinical studies exist to provide dosing recommendations for blessed thistle.
Blessed Thistle - Cnicus benedictus