Milk thistle on a meadow
Milk Thistle
[Silybum marianum, Carduus marianus.]

Milk thistle: the queen of thistles

The milk thistle is truly a splendor! With a height of up to 150cm, it can also reach a considerable size. Already in ancient times it was used to treat liver complaints of various kinds. In the Middle Ages, the thistle was associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, because the mother's milk of the Virgin Mary is said to have dripped on the green-white leaves. This earned it its common name milk thistle.

Facts about Carduus marianus

Did you know that...

... Carduus marianus was already prescribed in ancient times against snakebites?

...Hildegard von Bingen was a great fan of milk thistle?

...milk thistle protects liver cells from toxins?

... poisoning with the very toxic tuber leaf fungus can be treated with milk thistle?

What is milk thistle?

Milk thistle, also called women's thistle, is one of the great liver medicinal plants. It is a thistle that grows up to 150cm high and has its origin in Southern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. It belongs to botanical family of composite plants. Its purple/purple flower is characteristic and immediately recognizable. Its use in liver diseases has been documented since pre-Roman times and it has a firm place in empirical medicine. It is used as an ingredient in liver teas, as drops or in tablet form. Especially in detoxification or disorders of the digestive glands, it is an indispensable aid!

General and healing properties of milk thistle

The basic knowledge

Liver remedy

Milk thistle is one of the great liver remedies in naturopathy. Liver, gall bladder, intestine and pancreas benefit from its action.

Seeds with shell

Used are the seeds with husk, which are harvested and processed in late summer

Dosage form

Milk thistle can be used in tea mixtures, as a finished remedy in tablet form or as drops. Spagyric preparations cover a very wide range. 

Power plant

Helpful for: Chronic liver diseases such as fatty liver, alcohol abuse, infectious hepatitis, varicose veins, skin ulcers, hemorrhoids.

Carduus marianus Ingredients

The seeds with the husk are used. The basic requirement for pharmacological use for medicinal products is a minimum content of silymarin, the most important active ingredient mixture of milk thistle. This mixture has been shown to be liver-protective and liver-regenerative according to some recent studies.

You will also find the following ingredients in milk thistle: 

  • Bitters
  • Mixture of active ingredients Silymarin
  • Silibinin
  • Isosilybinin
  • Silychristin
  • Essential oils
  • Silydianin
  • Tannins
  • Resins

Milk thistle: effect for body and mind

Milk thistle is THE liver medicinal plant of herbal medicine. Primarily it is liver-protective and liver-regenerative. Lifestyle-related intoxications caused by alcohol, cigarettes, heavy food and stress place a heavy burden on the liver. Women's thistle with its active ingredient complex silymarin protects it, regenerates it and thereby regulates bile production. Even chronic liver inflammation and fatty livers with already elevated blood liver values can be treated and improved in this way. Since a strong liver always means a lot of vital energy, a cure with milk thistle is also a gift to the soul. In a fit and vital vessel the soul feels good, the milk thistle thus also has a mood-lifting and invigorating effect. However, since milk thistle has a profound effect on liver metabolism, you need to plan a little time for it. Cures of 4-6 weeks make sense and can be carried out several times a year.

Properties of Carduus marianus

  • Detoxifying
  • Liver stimulant
  • Decongesting
  • Deacidifying
  • Vitalizing
  • Congestion-reducing

Fields of application in naturopathy

[Silybum marianum, Carduus marianus.]

For good reason Hildegard von Bingen praised Carduus marianus as a miracle weapon for all diseases related to the liver. Especially in jaundice and against poisoning. In addition to the dominant areas of application around the liver, milk thistle also achieves very good results in the treatment of skin diseases. Here, too, a connection with detoxification and the liver cannot be dismissed out of hand. In addition, Carduus marianus is considered a mood enhancer and is good for depressive moods. Digestive problems can also be controlled with the help of the women's thistle.

Milk thistle for chronic liver diseases like fatty liver

In chronic diseases, the liver tissue usually remodels. Connective tissue or fat are deposited in the organ and inhibit the natural activity of the liver. Milk thistle supports the activity of the liver cells, helps to remove waste products and stored fat and thus nourishes the organ.

Carduus marianus for varicose veins and hemorrhoids

A stressed liver does not metabolize well and can therefore no longer perform its tasks, which are actually the absorption of nutrients from the blood and detoxification. This nutrient-rich blood backs up and promotes the development of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Since Carduus marianus promotes the liver cells in their activity, the backlog recedes and the complaints subside.

Women's thistle effect in alcohol abuse

Alcohol is a cytotoxin. The liver's task is to filter out and break down this cell toxin. A task that is very demanding for the liver and puts a lot of strain on it. Cures with milk thistle help your liver to break down this toxin so that it does not suffer any damage.

Christ's crown effect in infectious hepatitis

Infectious hepatitis, i.e. liver inflammation, also irritates and stresses the liver cells. As a result, the blood liver values are usually elevated, you often feel nauseous, and you have an aversion to fat and meat. Maybe you know this from spoiled seafood. Again, milk thistle can help the liver regenerate to overcome the infection.

Milk thistle effect on skin ulcers

There are many skin ulcers and one should definitely have them clarified. But especially for the unspecific rashes without a known cause, milk thistle has proven to be a good treatment. However, you do not only take it, but also make external compresses with strong decoctions. 


Milk thistle effect on digestive problems

Whether you are experiencing diarrhea or constipation, the active digestive glands are usually involved in what is happening, even if there is no infection. The active digestive glands include your liver and your pancreas. So it's always good to think about and take care of those two when you have problems like this. Milk thistle tea is a good option here. You're harnessing the power of the plant and drinking plenty of fluids. It doesn't get any better than that!

Notes on the use of milk thistle

Carduus marianus is mostly offered in liquid and solid form for oral use. Thus, it is taken in the form of teas, tablets or liquid drops. The fruits of milk thistle in high doses can occasionally cause flatulence and creek pain. In general, however, the milk thistle preparations and preparations are considered to be very well tolerated. 

Tea preparations are not recommended for the treatment of the liver, because the ingredients necessary for the liver beneficial effect are hardly dissolved in water. A tea is the ideal choice for digestive problems and bloating.

Milk thistle when taking medication

While women's thistle supports the liver in its detoxification activity, it does not cause accelerated breakdown. That is, there should be no problem if you take it with your prescribed medications such as the pill or painkillers.

Milk Thistle in Pregnancy & Lactation

Since there are no studies available for the use of milk thistle during pregnancy and lactation, it is better to be cautious and refrain from taking it.

Discover our sprays

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Use the healing power of Carduus marianus

Use the healing power of milk thistle and our other 100 medicinal plants for the natural relief of your complaints. Improve your well-being and support your body, your mind and your soul! Use our configurator to create your personal spagyric spray, which is tailored to your needs and accompanies you on your natural path to the improvement of body, mind and soul.


Purple flower of milk thistle with pointed green leaves


Milk Thistle

Botanical name

Silybum marianum, Carduus marianus

Plant family

Compositae = Asteraceae

Other designations

Lady thistle, fever thistle, crown of Christ


July - August

Harvest time

August - September


sunny location, easily spreads itself



Flower color


Flower shape

Corollas with sepals (hem)

Leaf color

dark green with white spots

Leaf shape

alternate, stalked to stalkless stem leaves

Sheet properties

elongated to 50cm, thick, serrated edges with yellow spines

Soil type

sandy and lean

Soil moisture

Moderately dry


neutral to slightly alkaline

Lime compatibility

lime tolerant

Nutrient requirements




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