7 days, 10am-5pm (some longer!)

For your local shop's info

Promoting the appreciation, information, benefits, culture, use, and availability of all natural plants and herbs.
Your Shopping Basket

Saint Mary's Thistle

Botanical name:

Silybum marianum

Other names

Milk thistle, Marian Thistle, Our Ladies Thistle, Variegated Thistle, Blessed Thistle, Holy Thistle, Wild Artichoke, Livercare Plant

This stunning plant, with its colourful display of large green leaves with blotchy-white patches, saw an imaginative folk legend arise about it. The legend says, that as the Virgin Mary was feeding baby Jesus, some of her milk dropped on the thistle near her feet, which produced the white ‘spilt-milk’ effect, which has distinguished this herb ever since and as a consequence it has been a revered herb, receiving the many common names listed above.

St. Mary’s Thistle has a long history of use in the West as a remedy for depression and liver problems. The liver could be called the hardest working organ of our body, with many vital functions to perform. Due to our toxin-laden food and environment, it may become an over-loaded swamp of poisons. From 1940-1970 numerous research projects confirmed the plant’s remarkable ability to assist the liver in repair, and also to protect from the detrimental effects of alcohol, drugs, toxic foods, heavy metals, and chemicals.

Silymarin, an extract from the seed, acts on the membranes of the liver cells preventing the entry of virus toxins and other toxic compounds and thus preventing damage to the cells. It also dramatically improves liver regeneration in hepatitis, cirrhosis, mushroom poisoning and other diseases of the liver.

Milthistle has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels, reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis, reduce the growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers, and reduce the liver damaging effects of chemotherapeutic drugs.

There are several ways the herb can be taken. All parts of the plant are used as infusions, tinctures, or as an extract with the strongest concentration being in the seeds. Flavones are not fully soluble in water, so the most effective way to take the herb is in alcoholic tincture or dry extract. To make tea from the leaves, which are highly effective as well, use 1 tsp dried, fine cut leaves or 3 heaped tsp fresh. Pour boiling water over, steep 10 mins and drink 3 times a day.


Buzzelli, G; Moscarella, S; Giusti, A; Duchini, A; Marena, C; Lampertico, M (1993). "A pilot study on the liver protective effect of silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (IdB1016) in chronic active hepatitis". International journal of clinical pharmacology
Antimetastatic efficacy of silibinin: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential against cancer Deep G., Agarwal R. Cancer and Metastasis Reviews 2010 29:3 (447-463)
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Milk Thistle". National Institutes of Health. - General information on milk thistle
Soto C, Pérez J, García V, Uría E, Vadillo M, Raya L"Effect of silymarin on kidneys of rats suffering from alloxan-induced diabetes mellitus." Phytomedicine. 2010 Dec 1;17(14):1090-4

Share this article:

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Filtered HTML

  • Twitter-style #hashtags are linked to search.twitter.com.
  • Twitter-style @usernames are linked to their Twitter account pages.
  • E-Mail addresses are hidden with reCAPTCHA Mailhide.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><h2><h3><p><br>
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Share this: