If left unattended, milk thistle can take over a field thanks to the easy and rapid dispersal of its seeds by even a slight wind. Milk thistle plants tend to mature at different times, but seed production generally begins in the fall. The more dry the seed heads are, the more readily the seeds will fall off. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College. Side effects that may indicate an allergic reaction to milk thistle include: Avoid using milk thistle if taking metronidazole, Simeprevir, and drugs to treat hepatitis C. Typically, milk thistle dosing guidelines are recommended to be no more than 140 mg consumed orally three times per day for adults. Some supplement bottles containing milk thistle in capsule or pill format suggest that use of this wild edible may be safe at a level of 420 mg daily for up to 41 months. It typically grows up to at least 3 feet tall. All Rights Reserved. DISCLAIMER: Information provided for educational purposes only. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. The only requirement for milk thistle is a well-draining soil. Mature seeds are ideal because of their high levels of silymarin. It has not been evaluated by the FDA. Plan to harvest the milk thistle in the fall. Even a slight wind is all it takes to broadcast the white flowery seeds. Nicholas Cuplepper, a 17th century English herbalist, used the wild plant to treat jaundice and remove obstructions in both the spleen and liver. Broken stems and leaves will expose a milky sap from which many folks believe the plant got its name. Expect solar dehydrating to cut the standard air drying or sack drying time approximately in half. To do this, put the milk thistle … 5 Ways to Use Milk Thistle Seeds 1. Milk thistle itself is often considered a weed. It requires very little care and a controlled environment to prevent invasive growth. The pappus assists in the dispersal of the seeds by wind, acting as a parachute. This extract, commonly known as a tincture, is administered directly into the body. In order to control its spread it is advised to harvest the seeds before they become over-mature. This attractive yet prickly fall foraging wild edible belongs to the same plant family as artichokes and daisies. Originated in Europe but also present in North America, milk thistle is a hardy annual plant that can be found growing wild in rocky, dry areas. One milk thistle flower contains up to 190 seeds, and about 90 percent of those remain viable after harvest. Always bring the milk thistle plant pieces being dehydrated by the sun inside at night to prevent dampness from infusing into them, and cause drying delays. While I will defer to experts about much of the Bible, that yarn about the Virgin Mary is DEFINITELY not in the Bible. Since it grows in clumps, it is recommendable to space the plant 12-15 inches (30-38 cm) apart. Let the heads dry completely in a paper bag and loosen the seeds. Watch for milk thistle flowers to start drying out and producing silver-white seed heads, called pappus. You would miss a lot of the seeds that way, but it would be the only, and safest way to proceed with a lot of these to process. Silymarin is also formed by betaine, apigenin, fatty acids, proteins, silybon, polyphenolic, and fixed oils. Sockeye–Hm, may be a maturity thing. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Milk thistle is one of the easiest to identify fall foraging offerings. Most people consider milk thistle a pesky weed because it can grow tall and thorny, making it hard to even get near. I would recommend using the herb or nut setting on a standard home dehydrator, allowing it to dry for about 5 hours. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! The entire plant is edible, when properly prepared and harvested, and can be used in a wide variety of recipes to bolster their nutritional content and flavor. The plant is used in natural medicinal remedies, to brew as a tea, and as a recipe ingredient. HerbaZest.com is not responsible for the accuracy of the information. If left unattended, milk thistle can become a very invasive weed. I would definitely wait to de-seed until the seed heads are completely browned (no green remaining). It was Dioscorides, a Greek botanist and doctor who first prescribed milk thistle to treat hepatobiliary diseases. You can then sprinkle the powder onto your baked goods, use the powder to bake, and/or add some texture to burger patties or any other snack. The fruit portion of milk thistle is found in the pappus that falls away when the plant dries, and is not used to make an extract. Pregnant and nursing women are also cautioned against the consumption or use of milk thistle because testing on this population just has not been extensive and too many potential health unknowns exist. The U.S. National Cancer Institute reports that milk thistle contains the active ingredient silymarin, which is used to treat liver and gallbladder problems and is an antioxidant that protects the cells against damage. Native American tribes often used milk thistle to treat skin rashes, diseases, and boils. By entering your e-mail you consent to subscribe to my newsletter. It also contains the super-antioxidant glutathione. Conditions Milk Thistle Has Been Used To Treat Or Prevent. When dealing with a particularly dry or spikey plant, I can even feel the tiny yet sharp thorns through my lined leather work gloves. You can get rid of the remaining fluff by tossing it in a bowl in front a fan, or wait for a windy day. Yes. This particular form is found on the seeds of plants in the Asteraceae family, such as dandelion and thistle. I'm asking this for bird consumption, not human. Harvest as many milk thistle heads as you like. Not a lot to show for this much peril. I think from eight or so heads, I got about a half cup of milk thistle seeds. Milk thistle is one of the bittering ingredients I've seen listed as an alternative to hops. Use sturdy work gloves and cut the flower cone blossoms away from the stem. Last Updated: May 10, 2019 The virgin Mary was sheltering herself from the elements and possible evil doers beneath the prickly leaves of the milk thistle plant while nursing the baby Jesus, according to some ancient stories. I'm wondering if anyone knows how to harvest milk thistle seeds? This information is for research and entertainment purposes only. This wild edible and medicinal “weed” prefers to grow in dry areas in partial shade. Melissa King began writing in 2001. It should not be necessary to water milk thistle unless there are very extreme conditions of drought. Crush milk thistle leaves and seeds with a mortar until they're finely powdered. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. Stems from this fall foraging survival plant taste best when peeled and soaked in cold water to reduce their bitter taste, before being eaten either raw or cooked. After harvesting, the seeds are crushed or cracked to release the potent medicine that is absorbed into an alcohol mixture. It is often considered as an invasive weed; however, due to its benefits for liver health, milk thistle has become widely popular and nowadays is a common addition to many gardens and backyards. The silymarin from milk thistle is in the seeds, which are used to make extracts or tinctures for medicinal use. I bought them from a medicinal herb dealer. Simply boil or steam them until they are tender. Lay a window screen on a counter. Leaves on the milk thistle plant are lanceolate or oblong in shape. It was herbalists from Great Britain that significantly enhanced the use of milk thistle’s use by early medical care providers, especially for the treatment of kidney and spleen disorders. Unlike milkweed that grows in the spring and blooms in the middle of summer, milk thistle grows in the summer and blooms just as the season is ending – in most climates. Milk thistle plants typically yield up to 190 seeds per flower - that’s roughly 6350 seeds per plant!

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