The more I study and work toward a good pharmacopeia, the more I am committed to growing Milk Thistle. If our skin is our largest organ, then the liver is next in size and critical to good health. Milk Thistle is no doubt the best liver support with the least side effects.
The seeds I ordered came in yesterday, and I will use 6 in peat pots and plant the rest in situ.
This is one plant I feel ambivalent about because I know it is toxic to cattle and they don’t have the good sense to not eat it. Or more likely due to enclosures that are too small, where they have nothing left to eat. The closest cattle are about 3 miles upvalley, much too close for windborne seeds like Milk Thistle. At least prevailing winds are uphill and not toward the valley below. I will collect seeds as close to 100% as I can.
In Texas, Milk Thistle naturalized on my 14 acres, and I did have cattle on all sides. I routinely pulled them up and ate them before they bloomed or used them as mulch. My land had been abused and overgrazed before I owned it. The Milk Thistle didn’t disappear, but I didn’t import them and the neighbors were already dealing with their own… they infected my property… as ranchers view these things. My neighbor apologized 🙂
Each plant gets about 3 feet tall and can produce about 6500 seeds, a quarter pound. Per plant! If they grow well here, I will certainly have plenty of healthy greens and roots to eat, along with a lifetime supply of Milk Thistle seeds for myself and others. Since they are native to the Mediterranean, odds are good they will naturalize here.
Okay, less guilt and more about why I want to add a 3-foot-tall-toxic-to-cattle sticker to my food forest.
Milk Thistle doesn’t mask symptoms of liver disease, it gives the liver building blocks to regenerate itself and heal. A dysfunctional liver is an expensive death sentence in the Market Economy. Liver function supports general health and is the big detoxifier machine in your body. In this age of constant bombardment by corporate agriculture and its toxic chemicals, your liver is your heavy artillery for self defense. Add in alcohol, prescription drug use, corporate toxins, and your liver can fail.
Silymarin is incorporated in cell membranes and increases membrane resistance to injuries and toxins; this mechanism protects your liver from organophosphate insecticides. Milk Thistle stimulates protein synthesis and activates the regeneration of liver cells, especially those damaged by solvents, i.e. drinking alcohol and industrial chemicals.
Milk Thistle lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure, and reduces growth of breast, cervix, and prostate cancer cells.
On 5 acres, I can grow Milk Thistle for my health and the health of others. I had lens implants for cataracts, and Milk Thistle is one of the few supports for eyes and macular degeneration, which is so common with cataract lens implants. Yep, let’s avoid that problem. It would be foolish to rely on the Market Economy for Milk Thistle when it is easy to grow and provides a critical nutrient for health.
I need Milk Thistle in my pharmacopeia, both for its health uses and its prolific addition of edible leaves and roots. As a typical nutrient accumulator, Milk Thistle also composts down to add enrichment to the soil for other plants.
As for my Texas rancher neighbors, Milk Thistle plagued them because it loves overgrazed land, it is a nutrient accumulator and not only repairs livers and gallbladers and eyeballs and skin, it repairs soil. My poor soil needs the help too making Milk Thistle Manna from Heaven.