Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus), not to be confused with milk thistle (Silybum marianum), was once used to treat the bubonic plague. Today, people use the flowering plant’s blossoms, leaves, and stems for many things, such as increasing breast milk production and soothing indigestion.
Blessed thistle is commonly used as an herbal galactagogue. A galactagogue is a food, herb, or medication that increases the flow of breast milk, usually by increasing prolactin levels. Blessed thistle contains cnicin, a compound found in many bitter herbs. Cnicin is thought to stimulate the production of both saliva and gastric acid, which both aid digestion. Blessed thistle also has a long-standing reputation as an expectorant.