Powers: Strength. Protection. Healing. Exorcism. Hex-Breaking.
Stuff hex-breaking poppets with thistles.
Thistles grown in the garden ward off thieves.
Wear or carry thistles to drive out melancholy.
Carry a thistle (or part of a thistle) for energy and strength
Thrown into a fire, thistles deflect lightning away from the house.
Botanical Name:Cirsium vulgare
Common Names: Bull Thistle, Common Thistle, Cotton Thistle, Woolly Thistle
Family: Asteraceae, Aster or Composite
Plant Type: Biennial
Parts Used: Root, leaves, flowery tops, seeds.
Flowering: July – September
Bull thistle is a widespread biennial thistle originally from Europe and Asia, but now introduced throughout North America. Although it is intimidating in appearance and can sometimes form large infestations, this thistle is not as challenging to control as many others and is mainly a problem in hay fields and pastures. Bull thistle is also commonly found along trails, roads and vacant fields.
Description: The Bull thistle is an erect biennial plant reaching a height of 3.3 ft to 4.95 ft (1 m to 1.5 m). The central stem is solid and prickly. The leaves are alternate, pinnately cut; the larger ones with the lobes again toothed or lobed, with rough, bristly hairs above, thinly white-woolly-hairy to sometimes green and merely stiff-hairy beneath. The leaf bases are extended down the stem. The leaves end in long, pointy beige-colored thorns. Several showy purple 4-5 cm wide flowerheads appear on branches. The abundant seeds are equipped with long plumes and are attached to the base by a ring until they reach maturity. The roots are slender and deep.
Culinary Uses: Common thistle often served as survival food, for its leaves can be eaten once the thorns have been removed. Common thistle is used to prepare a nutritious bittersweet soup. The root of bull thistle is edible cooked; a rather bland flavor, the root is best used mixed with other vegetables. It can be dried and stored for later use. The root is rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce gases. Young flower stems can be cooked and used as a vegetable. Young leaves can be soaked overnight in salt water and then cooked and eaten. Another report says that they can be used in salads. The taste is rather bland but the prickles need to be removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten. The flower buds can be cooked and used like globe artichokes, but they are smaller. The dried flowers have been a rennet substitute for curdling plant milks. The seeds have occasionally been eaten roasted.
Leaves: sugars, chlorophyll, bioflavonoids, minerals (iron, silica, potassium), bitter principles, mucilages, tannins.
Seeds: acids, polyunsaturated oil.
Root: inulin, bitter principles.
Herbal Healing with Thistle
Medicinal Actions: Diuretic, antiviral, analgesic, antirheumatic
Medicinal Uses: Finely shredded and used in a poultice, common thistle cures suppurating wounds. When boiled whole (1 leaf in 1 cup [250 ml] water), the leaves act as a diuretic and gently drain the liver and soothe fevers caused by an overtaxed liver. The roots lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The roots of bull thistle have been used as a poultice and a decoction of the plant used as a poultice on sore jaws. A hot infusion of the whole plant has been used as an herbal steam for treating rheumatic joints. Bleeding piles have been treated by a decoction of the whole plant, used both internally and externally.
Popular medieval beliefs praised the common thistle decoction as a miracle lotion against baldness. The woolly plumes of the thistle have long served as a dressing for wounds as well as stuffing for pillows.
Body Care with Thistle
Taken in an herbal tea - 1 tsp in 1 cup (250 ml) water - 3 times a day for 10 days before meals constitutes a seasonal cleansing.
1 common thistle flower head picked at the start of flowering
3 cups (750 ml) pure water
Boil the flower head for 3 minutes. Infuse for 15 minutes.
Drink during the day before meals. Effect a cure for 10 to 30 consecutive days in the case of a viral infection to nourish and stimulate the immune system.
Other Uses: The down makes excellent tinder that is easily lit by a spark from a flint. The cold-pressed oil of the seeds was used for cooking and as lamp oil for many years.
Native American Thistle Medicine
Analgesic: infusion of leaves taken for neuralgia.
Gastrointestinal Aid: Warm infusion of roots taken to help a person who overeats.
Poultice: Roots used as poultice and decoction of bruised plant used to poultice sore jaw.
Antirheumatic (external): Hot infusion of roots or twigs used as a steam treatment for muscular swellings and stiff joints.
Antirheumatic (external): infusion of whole plant used as herbal steam for rheumatism.
Herbal steam: infusion of roots or twigs used as herbal steam for rheumatism
Cancer treatment: Plant used for cancer.
Hemorrhoid remedy: Plant used for bleeding piles. Decoction of whole plant taken and poultice of plant and wool applied to hemorrhoids.
Hemostat: Plant used for bleeding piles.
Adjuvant: Root used as a seasoner for medicines.
Emetic: Decoction of plant taken to induce vomiting.
Analgesic and gastrointestinal aid: Root used by men and women for stomach cramps.
Adjuvant: Fresh flower centres chewed to mask unpleasant flavors in medicines.
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