milk thistle

Milk Thistle Spotted or Spicy-variegated (Silybum marianum L.)

Milk thistle is an annual or biennial herb from the Compositae family. Other names: sharp-variegated, Mary’s thistle, black elecampane, lumpy. Maryino ostropestro, Marya’s thorns, white thistle, spicy pester, thistle.


One- or two-year-old plant with a spindle-shaped root. Stem 60-150 cm in height, straight, ribbed, tufted-pubescent at the top; leathery leaves, with white transverse wavy interrupted stripes, lower ones on petioles, middle and upper sessile, amplexicaul, leaf blade oblong, wavy, with serrated prickly lobes along the edge, spines are long, strong, yellow. The flowers are collected in large spherical baskets, surrounded by prickly leaves of the wrapper; corollas only tubular, lilac-purple, of filiform petals; achenes within 5 mm in length, ribbed-wrinkled, white-spotted with a tuft. Blooms all summer. Milk thistle grows in wastelands, sometimes bred in vegetable gardens.

Contains active substances:

For medicinal purposes, the fruits are used sharply-variegated. The chemical composition of the plant is not well understood. It is known that achene fruits contain fatty oil (up to 32%), mucus and tyramine (hydroxyphenylacetylamine).

Medicinal use:

The fruit in the form of a tincture is part of the product “Cholelithin No. 1”, used to treat cholelithiasis. Previously, pungent-variegated fruits called Fructus seu Semen Cardui mariae were used in medicine for diseases of the liver and spleen, for cholelithiasis, jaundice and chronic cough.

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