Prickly thistle

A very spiny biennial plant with a spindle-shaped root and an erect stem. The leaves are rather fragile, hard, pinnately deeply divided, the edges are prickly, ciliated. The flowers are collected in large baskets, surrounded by a wrapper of linear-lanceolate leaves ending in a spine. The thistle differs from the tartar in that its baskets are drooping, sitting on long cobweb-felt, non-thorny legs. Leaves-wrappers with long spines sharply bent down. The bristles of the tuft are like those of a Tatar: naked, non-feathery. If the thistle’s spines are pressed tightly against the heads of the flowers, then cloudy weather with rain can be expected, and if the spines lag behind the head, clear weather must be expected. The color of the drooping thistle is often purple, but sometimes pink.

It grows in weedy places, wastelands, near housing, within roads, on pastures. Blooms from late June to September. Distributed throughout Russia.

Medicinal raw materials are leaves collected during flowering, roots, sometimes tops of flowering plants.

In folk medicine, a decoction of the leaves is given to babies with convulsions, fright, and diarrhea. Thistle is used for disorders of the nervous system, colds (as a diaphoretic), and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Fresh juice was used by applying dressings moistened with juice to cancerous ulcers.

Among the Mongols, varieties of thistles were used with great success in the folk medicine of various tribes, as well as in Tibetan medicine. They were used to treat anthrax and infected wounds, which in those days often included an open form of cancer. For treatment, both aqueous extracts and extracts of fresh juice of thistle roots were used.

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