Blessed thistle - Cnicus benedictus (in the Asteraceae or Aster family)
Part used: Aerial parts in flower.
Taste/smell: Aromatic, bitter.
Dosage: Infusion: 1 heaping teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:1 fresh plant liquid extract: 20-40 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water.
Use: Blessed thistle promotes secretion of saliva and gastric juices. It is used as a bitter tonic for gastrointestinal colic with gas and loose stools, atony of the gallbladder and lack of appetite. It may also be used to stimulate lactation. The constituents are bitter substances of the sesquiterpene lactone type, tannin, mucilage and essential oil. The essential oil has shown antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Contraindications: High doses may irritate the stomach and cause vomiting. Do not use during pregnancy.