An Overview of Milk Thistle
Other common names include Carduus marianus, milk thistle, blessed milk thistle, Marian thistle, Mary thistle, Saint Mary's thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, variegated thistle, and Scotch thistle. Plants of the family Asteraceae have an annual or biennial life cycle. Pay attention to when the flowers begin to dry out when harvesting.More to love in Milk Thistle:
- Toward the end of the fall, you will see seeds appearing on the tops of the milk thistles
- You should wait until the milk thistle blossoms are dry before harvesting
- You may be able to improve your skin's health with milk thistle
- The milk thistle is highly drought tolerant and prefers dry conditions
Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is a herb that has been used for centuries for its potential medicinal properties. Some of the benefits of milk thistle may include:
- Liver support: Milk thistle contains a powerful antioxidant called silymarin, which may help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins and other harmful substances.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Milk thistle has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis.
- Lowering cholesterol levels: Some studies suggest that milk thistle may help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Antioxidant properties: Milk thistle has strong antioxidant properties, which may help protect the body against damage from free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Improving insulin resistance: Some research suggests that milk thistle may help improve insulin resistance, potentially reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Skin health: Milk thistle may also benefit the skin, as it can help protect against oxidative damage and reduce inflammation.
While milk thistle has many potential benefits, it is essential to note that more research is needed to fully understand its effects on the body and its possible uses as a medicinal herb. As with any supplement, talking to your doctor before adding milk thistle to your routine is always a good idea.
How to sow and care for Milk Thistle
a step-by-step guide on how to plant and care for milk thistle:
- Choose a location: Milk thistle thrives in full sun but can tolerate some shade. Look for a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily.
- Prepare the soil: Milk thistle prefers well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add compost, aged manure, or other organic matter to improve the soil's quality. Avoid planting milk thistle in soil that's too wet or heavy.
- Sow the seeds: Sow the seeds in the early spring, after the last frost. You can also sow them in late fall. Scatter the seeds over the soil and lightly press them into the soil. Space the seeds about 18-24 inches apart.
- Water regularly: Milk thistle requires regular watering, especially during hot, dry periods. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering, as this can promote fungal growth.
- Thin the seedlings: Thin them to about 12 inches apart when they emerge. This will give the plants enough space to grow and mature.
- Fertilize: Milk thistle only requires a little fertilizer. You can add a slow-release fertilizer once or twice a year to boost the plants.
- Control pests: Milk thistle is generally resistant to pests and diseases, but you may need to watch for aphids and spider mites. If you notice any infestations, treat them promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Harvest the seeds: Milk thistle produces large, prickly seed heads in the summer. Harvest the seeds when the heads turn brown, and the seeds are fully ripe. Cut off the heads and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place to dry out. Once dry, rub the heads between your hands to release the seeds.
- Cut back the plants: After they have finished blooming, you can cut them back to encourage new growth. However, be careful not to cut back too much, as this can damage the plant.
By following these steps, you can successfully sow and care for milk thistle in your garden.
Note: Th is Overview is intended as a guide only since cultural practices and climatic conditions may vary.
Toxicity: Milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) established supplements include been measured to deliver the highest mycotoxin concentrations of up to 35 mg/kg when approximated to diverse plant-based dietary supplements.
- Product: Milk Thistle Seeds
- Season: Early spring
- USDA Zones: 5-9
- Days to Harvest: 60 days
- Soil Type: All varieties
- Temperature: 32-86° F
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Scientific name: Silybum marianum
- Family: Asteraceae
- Order: Asterales
- Higher classification: Silybum
- Genus: Silybum
- Species: S. marianum
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