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Blessed Thistle Description - Side Effects and its Dosage

Taxonomic Class

Asteraceae

Common Trade Names

Blessed Thistle Combo, Blessed Thistle Herb

Common Forms

Available as 325-and 340-mg capsules, 1-oz packets of dried herb, 1-oz containers of tincture, and tea.

Source

The crude drug is obtained from the leaves and, especially, the flowers of the blessed thistle, an annual plant found primarily in Asia and Europe. Blessed thistle, Cnicus benedictus (Carbenia benedicta, Carduus benedictus), is related to daisies, asters, and other flowering plants.

Chemical Components

The aerial parts of blessed thistle contain the sesquiterpene lactones cnicin and salonitenolide. Concentration of sesquiterpene lactones is quite variable in the Asteraceae family and depends on climate, season, geographic location, and soil quality at harvest.

Actions

Blessed thistle purportedly exerts effects on the stomach, liver, heart, blood, mammary glands, and uterus. The pharmacokinetics of blessed thistle compounds have not been well documented. In vitro cytotoxicity has been demonstrated for cnicin .

The antibiotic activity of cnicin and other components of blessed thistle has also been investigated.

Reported Uses

Blessed thistle is claimed to be useful for several GI and hepatic disorders and for memory improvement, stimulation of lactation, and relief from menstrual symptoms.

Dosage

Various dosages have been suggested, depending on the intended use and method of administration. Lack of human trials makes it difficult to arrive at specific dosage recommendations. Besides capsules and tinctures, some sources recommend blessed thistle as a tea.

Adverse Reactions

  • GI: nausea, vomiting.

  • Skin: contact dermatitis.

Interactions

Other herbal drugs based on Asteraceae family: Possible cross-sensitivity. Avoid administration with blessed thistle.

Contraindications And Precautions

Blessed thistle is contraindicated in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown. Use cautiously in patients with a history of contact dermatitis, especially in relation to other members of the Asteraceae family.

Special Considerations

  • Monitor for contact dermatitis in susceptible patients. Airborne contact dermatitis is possible because of cross-sensitivity with other members of the Asteraceae family.

  • Inform the patient who wants to take blessed thistle that few scientific data on therapeutic benefits are available.

  • Advise women to avoid using blessed thistle during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Points of Interest

According to legend, blessed thistle was a popular folk remedy and tonic used by monks during the Middle Ages. It was also used to treat bubonic plague.

Germany allows use of this herb in the treatment of dyspepsia and loss of appetite.

Commentary

Many anecdotal claims are made for this agent, but there are no animal or human clinical data to support them.

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