Purple in colour when flourishing, this gift from Nature has powers able to solidify good cheese and protect the cleaning lady (the liver) of our soul’s house: the body. Its medical properties are written in this article to make you love the plant, which name is Milk thistle. Our ancestors use to made soup with its greens and the recipe is in the end of the article!
Milk thistle is a plant of the same family of absinthe and artichoke. It grows up to 200cm and it has a beautiful flower pink/purple. It is known by its usage in cheese production, but its production for pharmaceutical and medical purposes is worldwide recognized. In Portugal, it is considered a weed due to its wild growth in regions like Alentejo, which makes it possible to acquire milk thistle for free.
A brief history of the plant
The popularity of milk thistle goes beyond its medicinal purposes. The plant has been on the planet for a long time and already in the Bible we can find some references – both in Genesis and at the birth of Jesus. There are even legends saying that the leaves have the white colour of the milk that fell from Mary’s breasts while breastfeeding Jesus, whilst they were hiding from the soldiers in the nights the soldiers used to kill all male babies.
The plant is also one of the Emblems of Scotland, thus being a national symbol of the country.
The milk thistle has been used for several years to cure and prevent diseases in liver, pancreas, kidneys, blood and skin.
Super powerful, the milk thistle’s fruit (that is also its seed) contains a set of substances capable of protecting the liver. For that reason, milk thistle is frequently recommended to people with high alcohol consumption or with fatty liver condition. This set of substances is called silymarin, and despite being sold individually as a supplement, I always advise to use the whole plant and not only the extracted substance. Why? It is not 100% known how the body receives isolated substances that in its natural habitat are mixed with others. Also, the milk thistle itself is nutritious. Its protection to the liver is so efficient that even in situations of cirrhosis milk thistle is beneficial, with some believing that it regenerates the liver.
Milk thistle’s fruit/seed
The liver is the main organ to eliminate toxins from our body. It is also the one that regulates the amount of hormones that it will eliminate. For example, if our body has an excess of oestrogen, the liver will help to regulate it by getting rid of the excess. I already shared that in our society, the majority of us has this hormone in excess due to the environment and hormonal contraceptives and, therefore, having a healthy liver able to regulate this hormone is very important. In the opposite situation, when one has too low oestrogen (example: menopause), the milk thistle helps in two ways: when the liver is healthy, it will get rid of less amounts of this hormone that is already at low levels; plus, the milk thistle is “oestrogenic”, which means that one of its compounds can be used as oestrogen for the body. There are scientific studies showing that the milk thistle can be of great help for people with low bone density by lack of oestrogen.
“Silymarin is the most used natural compound for the treatment of hepatic diseases worldwide due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic activities. Silymarin functions by stabilizing biological membranes and increasing protein synthesis.” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3959115/pdf/WJH-6-144.pdf
The kidneys also benefit from thistle consumption. Because the silymarin complex works with RNA, it is believed that it stimulates the regeneration of kidney’s cells.
Milk thistle acts on the bile and facilitates blood clotting which is very useful for women with heavy menstrual bleeding.
Milk thistle is more efficient in prevention than detoxification, which can occur almost at the same time. For instance, when eating a toxic mushroom, silymarin acts early on to protect severe damages, before the mushroom arrives to the liver.
Not withstanding, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the thistle (Da Ji in Chinese) is connected with the blood, having the power of promoting blood circulation and assisting the spleen/pancreas and liver meridians.
Recipe Thistle and Beans Soup
1 – Go into the nature and pick them from the field. Please take care of the peaks, taking them off.
2- Wash them, cut the plant and put in a pan with 1 whole onion, garlic, bay leaf and cook.
3 – Add salt and pennyroyal, parsley and coriander.
4- Add beans.
What is the link between this article and self-expression? (BLOG UPDATE)
Update: From now on, this blog is going to be more and more related with self-expression in an holistic way and, therefore, self-expression has meanings like the Fifth Chakra, throat, thyroid, vocal cords… everything between the nose and the heart and it will go beyond the physical, thus including voice, self-expression, creativity and perhaps even music. Confusing? Not at all! It will happen gradually as it is happening in my life.
Milk thistle – Liver – Thyroid’s Hashimoto
Hashimoto’s disease has been increasingly diagnosed and has a high occurrence in women. This disease refers to a problem in which the immune system starts attacking the thyroid’s activity. It is important to calm down the immune system and show that the thyroid is not an enemy. There are several steps to do that and, this is undoubtedly a topic for another article, but milk thistle has a role in one of those steps – improving the health of the liver.
One of the causes and basis of thyroid’s Hashimoto is a toxic body and, consequently, assisting the liver with milk thistle will help to treat the disease. The liver is also the place where one of the thyroid products is converted for proper function of the body – therefore essential.