Growing milk thistle in a healing garden is a prickly annual, with a thick taproot and furrowed, downy white stems growing up to four feet.
The herb is also called Our Lady's milk thistle. Herbal therapies can raise your health to a whole new level. Milk thistle is one of the beneficial "tonic herbs" often recommended by herbalists.
Sow in spring in a sunny spot. When starting outdoors, milk thistle seed should be sown just after the last springtime frost. Milk thistles can grow in either sunny or lightly shaded areas of the garden and the soil type is not too important.
If growing Milk thistle indoors, plant seeds about two months before time to transplant outside. Seed will germinate in about three weeks. Transplant annuals following the last frost of spring.
If growing milk thistle in an indoor herb garden, you do not want to use a heavy soil. Experts suggest mixing potting soil with perlite or coarse sand. Before adding the soil to your pots, place a small layer of rocks on the bottom to aid proper drainage.
Thin seedlings to two feet apart. Milk thistle is easy to care for. The plants tolerate both wet and dry soils. To prevent them from becoming too weedy, deadhead the flowers before seed is set to remove unwanted plants. The herbs require moderate to little watering.
Plant Diseases & Pests
Milk thistle like most herbs has few pests or plant diseases.
Seeds are ready for harvest during the first year. Mature seeds are found in seed heads showing plentiful white fluff. Young shoots are edible and an Arab delicacy. Harvest seedlings; young leaves and shoots.
Pick flower stems just prior to flowering. Thistles are ideal when incorporated into compost, which is the best fertilizer for herbs. Use all herb refuse obtained in the healing garden for the compost pile. Gloves are required for harvesting due to the sharp prickles.
health benefits of milk thistle
Herbs bring an impressive array of health benefits including increased stamina and energy, heightened immunity, reduced heart disease risk, improved liver function, and reduced joint inflammation. As healing plants, milk thistle is used in herbal infusions for treating stomach and liver problems.
All thistles are rich in potassium. Just like expectant mothers, new moms often worry about what they eat or drink as far as what effect it could have on baby. Milk thistle lives up to its name so new mommies can rest easy. It can be sipped in tea throughout the breast feeding months to promote milk production.
Milk thistle is one of the world's most studied plants as to its health benefits for the liver. By stimulating protein formation, it boosts the level of key liver enzymes.
This action speeds the replacement of liver tissue that has been damaged. one of the side effects is that It also inhibits an enzyme that harms healthy liver cells. Studies show that milk thistle can help reverse the effects of hepatitis and cirrhosis.
milk thistle uses
Roots may be cooked like parsnips and the base of flower heads in the same fashion as artichokes. Stems can be peeled and boiled as a vegetable; seedlings eaten raw in salads. Fresh or dried flowerheads are used for medicinal purposes.
Before starting any herbal program to improve health, consult your doctor. Ensure milk thistle or other herbs will not interfere with any prescription drugs you may be taking.