Planting Seeds, Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

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.

Milk Thistle Seeds

Milk Thistle Seeds

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.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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4 Responses to Planting Seeds, Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

  1. Helen says:

    I appreciate your concern for cows vis-a-vis milk thistle. I’m not familiar with this plant but it sounds like a very useful addition to your food forest.

  2. Helen,
    I sure don’t want to hurt cows! I love eating beef and although I eat less meat than many, as omnivores we need our ranchers. Beef cattle need a lot of room to live healthy lives, and do not always get that. I have been looking at smaller animals too. Rabbits and chickens in unbearably tiny cages is just as bad. My chickens have a huge house and get time outside, I feed them from my property. Hard to balance all interests. What I realized in Texas is that the cost of beef is subsidized by ranchers having Market Economy employment. If they choose to give up running cattle we all lose. I helped a couple of them reduce expenses through different feed practices designed to lower costs instead of push them to buy more in the Market Economy. We are forcing them out of business in favor of Monsanto, Big Pharma, and the endless folks who make a living out of their hard work.

  3. Helen says:

    There are cows near us – never thought about their range before but probably they don’t encounter milk thistle.

  4. Helen,
    It was an education getting to know ranchers in Texas. Good people… even though we teased each other a lot. I had fun with that crew.

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