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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Annual or biennial herb to 1.2 m tall. Stem erect, unwinged, grooved, slightly cottony, simple or branched above. Leaves oblong, glabrous, with strongly spiny margins, pale, shiny, green with white along the veins above. Stem leaves amplexicaul with spiny-ciliate auricles. Capitula 4-5 × 1-2 cm, solitary, erect or nodding. Phyllaries bearing a stout long yellowish spine. Flowers red-purple. Achenes blackish, transversely wrinkled with a yellow ring near the apex.
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Evergreen Forests, Native of Tropical America"
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Distribution

Worldwide distribution

Southern Europe, N Africa, Caucasus and Near East; widely naturalised in other parts of the world.
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Global Range: The origins of SILYBUM MARIANUM lie in the region of Southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. Its current distribution includes most temperate areas of the world. It is common in the Western U.S. as a weed afflicting pastures, wastelands and irrigation banks (Parsons 1973). It is believed to have been introduced in cattle feed.

SILYBUM MARIANUM spread through both the southern and northern Central Valley of California during the 1940s, demonstrating a remarkable adaptation for colonizing. "The agricultural environment that was invaded had been dominated by alien weeds for 180 years. For a species without vegetative propagation to invade a community of annuals underscores the competitive advantage of its germination characteristics" Young et al. 1978). It is now common in both coastal and inland valleys.

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Tamil Nadu: Nilgiri
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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region, Oases, Mediterranean region and Sinai.

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Global Distribution

Mediterranean region, Sinai, eastwards to Afghanistan.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Stems glabrous or slightly tomentose. Leaves: basal wing-petioled, blades 15–60+ cm, margins coarsely lobed; cauline leaves clasping, progressively smaller and less divided, bases spiny, coiled, auriculate. Phyllary appendages spreading, ovate, 1–4 cm including long-tapered spine tips. Corollas 26–35 mm; tubes 13–25 mm, throats campanulate, 2–3 mm, lobes 5–9 mm. Cypselae brown and black spotted, 6–8 mm; pappus scales 15–20 mm. 2n = 34.
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Diagnostic Description

SILYBUM MARIANUM can be distinguished from other California thistles by its distinctive white-mottled leaves. There is only one species of SILYBUM established in California. "The seed leaves (cotyledons) are large from 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide and 3/4 to 1 inch long, rather thick, succulent and light green. The first leaves are very conspicuously white-netted along the veins and have short yellowish prickles" (A.H. Lange et al., 1983).

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Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Synonym

Carduus marianus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 823. 1753
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: SILYBUM MARIANUM is mainly confined to high fertility soils. It frequently establishes on river flats, sheep camps, around stock yards and any other area of higher than normal soil nitrogen levels, especially if the area has been disturbed.

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Associations

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Acanthiophilus helianthi feeds within capitulum of Silybum marianum

Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces cichoracearum parasitises live Silybum marianum

Foodplant / open feeder
adult of Lema cyanella grazes on leaf of Silybum marianum
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / parasite
telium of Puccinia calcitrapae parasitises live Silybum marianum

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
mainly epiphyllous, long covered by epidermis telium of Puccinia mariana parasitises live leaf of Silybum marianum

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia cynarae causes spots on live leaf of Silybum marianum

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General Ecology

Each terminal head of the plant produces approximately 100 seeds; 10 to 50 heads are produced per plant (Young et al. 1978). Seed weight is approximately 22 mg (Wheatley 1971). "From this we can calculate 10-50 grams of seed produced per plant. With a conservative average density of 2 plants/square meter theoretical seed production reaches 500 kg/ha" (Young et al. 1978).

Seed dispersal is the only means by which the milk thistle spreads. The seeds are equipped with a large pappus which allows effective spread by wind (Parsons 1973). Spread can also be attributed to their presence in grain and fodder (Wheatley 1971). Other means of dispersal include water, mud, agricultural produce, vehicles, machinery and animals (Parsons 1973).

The seeds of SILYBUM MARIANUM germinate in the fall after the first rains. "Plants develop slowly through the seedling stage, becoming flat rosettes by late autumn/early winter. Growth is rapid in late winter and early spring producing large cabbage-like plants up to 3 feet in diameter from which center stems develop in spring. Flowering commences in late spring and continues into early summer" (Parsons 1973).

The seedlings prefer disturbed soils which provide suitable bare areas for litter-free germination. Therefore, sheep camps, rabbit warrens, cultivated fire breaks, roadsides, overgrazed pastures and the like are ideal propagation sites. Seedlings do not establish in perennial pastures if the soil is well covered with vegetation during late summer and autumn. Litter seems to be a highly important inhibitive factor in the germination ecology of milk thistle seed. Because its germination is reduced by accumulations of grass litter, milk thistle is not adapted as a landscape dominant in areas where there is a continuous ground cover provided by existing vegetation. This can also hold true for annual rangelands if they are managed properly (Young et al. 1978). However, if there is an absence of pasture or litter cover in late summer and early fall, infestations of thistle may develop. This occurs especially in periods of drought which reduce the persistence of many pasture species (Michael 1968).

SILYBUM seed has the potential to remain viable in the soil for up to 9 years. The percentage of germination varies from year to year and can be less than 50% (Parsons 1973). In an article on germination requirements of this species, written in 1978 by Young et al., the following results were recorded.

"One month after harvest, milk thistle seeds had afterripening requirements related to germination temperature that limited germination to 10-20 C degrees. The time required to satisfy afterripening requirements was dependent on germination temperature. Generally the higher the incubation temperature during germination, the longer the afterripening requirement (up to a maximum of 5 months). Once afterripening requirements were satisfied, milk thistle seeds germinated over a temperature range of from 0-30 C degrees. Optimum germination occurred with 16 hour cold periods of 2-15 C degrees alternating with 8 hour warm periods of 10-30 C degrees. Emergence of milk thistle seedlings decreased with increased burial depth, but substantial emergence occurred from a depth of 8 cm. Germination on the surface of the soil or litter was greatly reduced compared to that with slight soil or litter coverage."

Once SILYBUM has found a niche it is a competitive thistle and it tends to establish in tall dense patches that eliminate other plant species either by shading or by competition for moisture and nutrients.

In areas of continual disturbance, eradication of SILYBUM is virtually impossible until the factors which cause the disturbance are removed. SILYBUM will stay localized in these areas unless disturbance becomes more widespread. Over-grazing and fire are two factors which encourage the spread of SILYBUM in large areas.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Seed dispersal is the only means by which the milk thistle spreads. The seeds are equipped with a large pappus which allows effective spread by wind (Parsons 1973). Spread can also be attributed to their presence in grain and fodder (Wheatley 1971). Other means of dispersal include water, mud, agricultural produce, vehicles, machinery and animals (Parsons 1973).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Silybum marianum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Silybum marianum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Reasons: Status in native range is not known. Exotic in the United States.

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Management

Restoration Potential: With proper management, affected areas can be restored to more desirable vegetation. Recommended management practices are to reduce grazing or remove the source of disturbance and introduce a native replacement.

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: An otherwise high quality natural area with localized infestations of SILYBUM may be suitable for acquisition or management as a preserve. Livestock and other management practices appear to contribute to high nitrogen or disturbed areas which encourage growth of this weed. SILYBUM may not represent a threat to the rest of the area's ecological quality.

Management Requirements: This weed does require active management once it is established in dense groves. Researched methods of control are listed below.

Mechanical: In Wheatley's opinion, "The ideal control (for SILYBUM MARIANUM) is to establish a vigorous perennial grass-legume sward before an area is invaded. By providing permanent ground cover, perennial pastures can prevent thistles from becoming dominant." Where spring sowing of perennial grasses or lucerne is feasible, competition from milk thistle will be greatly reduced because they are not competitive in the fall (Parsons 1973).

Cultivation can also be a useful method of controlling seedlings as a preliminary measure to sowing competitive perennial species. Mowing can be effective before seeds are produced although there is a danger of poisoning if there are any grazers in the vicinity. If there is no threat to stock, it is important to mow before the flowers are fully developed because fertile seeds may still form in the heads (Parson 1973).

In California, a mowing regime should begin in May, and mowing should be repeated four to six times during the spring and summer to suppress seed development. This program could take two years before control is visible (pers. comm., R. Lesco, Resource Management Specialist, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, 1985). This method has not been proven successful for erradication unless forbe seed is introduced to the affected area.

Physical removal of thistle in troublesome spots has had limited success in Pt. Reyes National Seashore (pers. comm., R. Lesco, Resource Management Specialist, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, 1985). However, Lanny Waggoner, Chief Ranger at Marin Area Headquarters, California State Parks, suggested that digging the individuals out by hand was creating ideal conditions for germination (pers. comm., L. Waggoner, Chief Ranger at Marin Area Headquarters, California State Parks, 1985).

Opinions about burning as a form of controlling milk thistle differ. Mr. Waggoner mentioned that he observed a remarkable percentage of mortality in a thistle complex that was burned in an "accidental fire" in January 1980. Other individuals have explained that seed germination may be enhanced by the disturbance created by burning, thereby encouraging SILYBUM establishment (pers. comm., R. Lesco, Resource Management Specialist, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and N. Havlick, Resource Analyst, East Bay Regional Park District, 1985).

Herbicidal: SILYBUM MARIANUM is most readily killed in the seedling and rosette stages of growth. The more mature the plant, the more resistent it becomes to treatment. One method of herbicide application is spot spraying with ester 2,4-D (80% a.i.) at the dilution of one part in 1,600 parts water, increasing to one part in 400 as the plants near maturity. For boom spraying Parsons recommends 1/2 pint per acre increasing to 1 1/2 pints per acre. Because germination occurs over a period of several months in the fall, autumn spraying will have to be followed up in the winter to deal with plants germinating later.

In an experiment of herbicide use on SILYBUM MARIANUM in wheat, authors R. Meissner and C. Mulder found that when sprayed selectively at the two to three leaf stage, the thistle was controlled 100% by picloram and methabenzthiazuron in combination with phenoxyacetic acid compound, "at rates normally recommended." After forming a rosette of three whorls or so, they discovered that S. MARIANUM was not adequately controlled by methabenzthiazuron alone. They mention that spot treatment with decamba may prove successful at later stages.

Biocontrol: The seed weevil, RHINOCYLLUS CONICUS may attain densities sufficient to destroy the seeds of thistles in amounts necessary for effective biological control. In June 1971, 316 weevils were collected near Rome, Italy and experimentally colonized on S. MARIANUM at a site near Santa Barbara. In September of the same year 9% of 154 dissected mature flower heads had been attacked (Goeden 1971). By 1973 94% of 208 flower heads examined were infested.

The eggs of R. CONICUS are found on the lower surface of the bracts of the newly formed flower heads (Hawkes et al. 1972). When the larvae hatch they bore directly through the bracts and into the flower where they feed upon and destroy the immature seeds and pupate in cells constructed among seed fragments. Adults emerge from these cells after the mature flowerheads open to shed their seeds (Goeden and Ricker l974).

Recently, the introduced seed weevil has been discovered on a variety of native Cirsium species (pers. comm., C. Turner 1985). The United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) Biocontrol Station in Albany, California, is now advising against its release because of the potential harmful effects of its spread. Research concerning this information is now in progress.

Goeden reports that the list of biological control agents effective on S. MARIANUM has the potential to expand given further understanding and research on the effects of introducing new insect species.

Management Programs: Management of SILYBUM MARIANUM has been underway at Kaweah Oaks Preserve since 1984. In February of that year an experimental application of 2,4-D was applied to SILYBUM at its maximum rosette stage of development. The treatment has focused on dense stands under oak trees where cattle had traditionally congregated. This method of control proved to be successful. In 1985 however, herbicidal methods of control will not be employed. This year a 40 acre infested area will be mowed with a "bushwacker" before flowerheads mature. Contact: Rob Hansen, Preserve Manager, 3450 Avenue 144, Corcoran, CA 93212. Phone: (209) 992-5308

Monitoring Programs: Qualitative observations of the changes in a thistle complex which occurs on the Marin headlands are in progress by Terri Thomas, a plant ecologist working for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

Rob Hansen, preserve manager for Kaweah Oaks in California, has been monitoring SILYBUM growth patterns in an area from which cattle have been removed. In the spring of 1984 he set out six transect lines, 100 meters each. From the data he gathered he was able to compare the radius of the existing growth to the radius of the growth from 1983. This data expressed a marked decrease in the SILYBUM population over time. The average decrease ranged from 20-80 percent. Follow up data will be gathered in the spring of 1985. Three intercept lines will be set out on original transect corridors.

Management Research Programs: Ms. Thomas of the GGNRA is conducting informal management-related research on a milk thistle complex in the Marin Headlands. To test the effect of mowing on thistle inhibition, a three acre thistle-infested stand was mowed during the winter of 1983. The following spring the mowed area had recovered, with the thistle growing back in what appeared to be an even greater density than the adjacent areas that had not been mowed the previous winter. Although the three acre thistle stand seemed to recuperate quickly and even benefit from mowing in 1983, in the spring of 1984 seedling establishment in the mowed area was poor and large patches of bare ground were visible. At this time Ms. Thomas prepared two 10' X 20' plots within the three acre area to test and monitor thistle regrowth. In one plot, the remaining few young thistles were pulled by hand and FESTUCA seed planted. In the other plot Ms. Thomas sowed FESTUCA on the bare patches among thistle seedlings. By winter 1985, the two experimental plots appeared quite different. Both supported much denser grass than the surrounding thistle-covered areas, and the occurrence of FESTUCA on the cleared quadrat was much greater than on the uncleared plot. The percentage of thistle occurring on the uncleared site was twice that of the cleared plot. Although the evidence is still inconclusive, it appears that thistle mowing reduces thistle seedling establishment and that FESTUCA introduced over areas, both cleared and uncleared of thistle, helps maintain lower thistle regeneration (pers. comm., T. Thomas, Plant Ecologist, GGNRA, 1985). Contact: Terri Thomas, Plant Ecologist, National Park Service, Fort Mason, Building 201, San Francisco, CA 94123. Phone: (415) 556-1838

Management Research Needs: The following are specific questions that need study to improve control efforts: (1) Could mowing, followed by covering the area with a thick layer of mulch, be an effective control for S. MARIANUM? (2) Could burning be considered an effective method of control for this weed? (3) Is S. MARIANUM germination enhanced by the disturbance created by mechanical removal to an extent that would render this method unacceptable? (4) Is grazing exclusion an acceptable method of control?

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These species are introduced in Switzerland.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: SILYBUM MARIANUM has long been familiar to man. It commonly appears in European herbals after 1590. Formerly it was cultivated for "its oil bearing seed and as an ornamental plant in Europe and east Asia, and still finds limited use, e.g. in Italy, as a salad green or vegetable" (Goeden 1976).

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: In areas of continual disturbance, eradication of SILYBUM MARIANUM is virtually impossible until the factors which cause the disturbance are removed. SILYBUM will stay localized in these areas unless disturbance becomes more widespread. Over-grazing and fire are two factors which encourage the spread of SILYBUM in large areas.

To achieve control and potential eradication of S. MARIANUM, physical removal, cultivation and mowing can prove effective if complemented by sowing a perennial, or otherwise competitive grass. The most effective herbicide used on S. MARIANUM is 2,4-D. The plant is most susceptible to the chemical from the seedling to the rosette stages of growth.

The introduction of the biocontrol agent RHINOCYLLUS CONICUS on milk thistle populations has provided some degree of control of S. MARIANUM in Southern California. However, specialists at the USDA office of biological control are advising against its release due to the fact that it has been found on at least ten species of native CIRSIUM.

There are no completely satisfactory techniques to eradicate SILYBUM. All techniques should be considered experimental and treated as such, with the use of controls and careful documentation and reporting.

Species Impact: SILYBUM MARIANUM has been perceived as a problem for a variety of reasons. One reason control methods have been sought after is due to the toxic potential of the thistle. SILYBUM MARIANUM has caused some of the worst cases of stock poisoning in northwest Tasmania. The poisonous principle is nitrate (Macadam 1966). Cattle and sheep eat the plant material which contains potassium nitrate and break it down by means of ruminal bacteria into the poisonous form (Knott 1971). "The nitrite ion...combines with haemoglobin to form methaeglobin ...[which is] incapable of combining with oxygen. If large amounts of methaeglobin are present in the blood stream, affected animals will begin to show respiratory distress for lack of oxygen." (Knott 1971) Poisoning threats are increased when the plants are wilting after being cut or partly turned under during plowing and in wet weather (or) when soil moisture is high. In dry conditions they are not considered dangerous (Parsons 1973).

As mentioned earlier S. MARIANUM will establish in dense stands often competing with more desirable plants, occasionally to their complete exclusion (Goeden 1971). This is relevant to The Nature Conservancy preserve management and it also creates a problem in pasture production.

"The loss of pasture production because of thistles is difficult to evaluate in monetary terms. When thistle plants are scattered through the paddock, loss of production is minimal, as grazing is not restricted. However, when thistles are dense, stock may not be able to gain access to these areas" (Wheatley 1971).

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Wikipedia

Silybum marianum

"Blessed milk thistle" redirects here. For "blessed thistle", see Cnicus.
"Milk thistle" redirects here. For other uses, see List of plants known as milk thistle.
Illustration
Leaves
Cotyledons and first leaves
Silybum marianum01.jpg

Silybum marianum has other common names include cardus marianus, milk thistle,[1] blessed milk thistle, Marian thistle, Mary thistle, Saint Mary's thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, variegated thistle and Scotch thistle. This species is an annual or biennial plant of the Asteraceae family. This fairly typical thistle has red to purple flowers and shiny pale green leaves with white veins. Originally a native of Southern Europe through to Asia, it is now found throughout the world.

Description[edit]

It grows 30 to 200 cm tall, having an overall conical shape with an approx. 160 cm max. diameter base. The stem is grooved and more or less cottony. With the largest specimens the stem is hollow.

The leaves are oblong to lanceolate. They are either lobate or pinnate, with spiny edges. They are hairless, shiny green, with milk-white veins.

The flower heads are 4 to 12 cm long and wide, of red-purple colour. They flower from June to August in the North or December to February in the Southern Hemisphere ( Summer through Autumn ).

The bracts are hairless, with triangular, spine-edged appendages, tipped with a stout yellow spine.

The achenes are black, with a simple long white pappus, surrounded by a yellow basal ring.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Possibly native near the coast of southeast England, it has been widely introduced outside its natural range, for example into North America, Iran, Australia and New Zealand where it is considered an invasive weed. Cultivated fields for the production of raw material for the pharmaceutical industry exist on a larger scale in Austria (Waldviertel region), Germany, Hungary, Poland, China and Argentina. In Europe it is sown yearly in March–April. The harvest in two steps (cutting and threshing) takes place in August, about 2–3 weeks after the flowering.[citation needed]

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a thorny plant presenting decorative leaves with a white pattern of veins and purple flower heads. The plant originates from mountains of the Mediterranean region, where it forms scrub on a rocky base.

The seeds of milk thistle are one of the most important herbal liver medicines. The sylimarin contained in them is an effective life-saving agent even in cases of poisoning with a lethal dose of death cap mushroom. Besides that, milk thistle seeds have other therapeutic properties. The plant is sometimes also used as a decorative element in gardens, and its dried flower heads may be used for the decoration of dry bouquets.

Chemistry[edit]

Traditional milk thistle extract is made from the seeds, which contain approximately 4–6% silymarin.[3] The extract consists of about 65–80% silymarin (a flavonolignan complex) and 20–35% fatty acids, including linoleic acid.[4] Silymarin is a complex mixture of polyphenolic molecules, including seven closely related flavonolignans (silybin A, silybin B, isosilybin A, isosilybin B, silychristin, isosilychristin, silydianin) and one flavonoid (taxifolin).[4] Silibinin, a semipurified fraction of silymarin, is primarily a mixture of 2 diastereoisomers, silybin A and silybin B, in a roughly 1: 1 ratio.[4][5]

Clinical trials[edit]

Milk thistle has been used for a number of purposes including liver disease, and cancer; however, clinical studies are largely heterogeneous and contradictory.[6]

In trials, silymarin has typically been administered in amounts ranging from 420–480 mg per day in two to three divided doses.[6] However, higher doses have been studied, such as 600 mg daily in the treatment of type II diabetes[7] (with significant results), and 600 or 1200 mg daily in patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus [8] (without significant results). An optimal dosage for milk thistle preparations has not been established.

Milk thistle, along with dandelion and other extracts, are sometimes referred to as hangover cures as the bitter tincture supposedly helps organs rid toxins after heavy drinking.[9]

Herbal medicinal research[edit]

Silybum marianum is used in traditional Chinese medicine to clear heat and relieve toxic material, to soothe the liver and to promote bile flow.[10] Though its efficacy in treating diseases is still unknown, Silybum marianum is sometimes prescribed by herbalists to help treat liver diseases (cirrhosis, jaundice and hepatitis). Both in vitro and animal research suggest that Silibinin (syn. silybin, sylimarin I) may have hepatoprotective (antihepatotoxic) properties that protect liver cells against toxins.[11][12][13]

A 2000 study of such claims by the AHRQ concluded that "clinical efficacy of milk thistle is not clearly established". A 2005 Cochrane Review considered thirteen randomized clinical trials which assessed milk thistle in 915 patients with alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases. They question the beneficial effects of milk thistle for patients with alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases and highlight the lack of high-quality evidence to support this intervention. Cochrane concluded that more good quality randomized clinical trials on milk thistle versus placebo are needed.[14]

Cancer Research UK say that milk thistle is promoted on the internet for its claimed ability to slow certain kinds of cancer, but that there is no good evidence in support of these claims.[15]

Use as food[edit]

Milk thistle has also been known to be used as food. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled and buttered or par-boiled and roasted. The young shoots in spring can be cut down to the root and boiled and buttered. The spiny bracts on the flower head were eaten in the past like globe artichoke, and the stems (after peeling) can be soaked overnight to remove bitterness and then stewed. The leaves can be trimmed of prickles and boiled and make a good spinach substitute or they can also be added raw to salads.[citation needed]

Animal toxicity[edit]

Because of potassium nitrate content, the plant has been found to be toxic to cattle and sheep. When potassium nitrate is eaten by ruminants, the bacteria in an animal's stomach breaks the chemical down, producing nitrite ions. Nitrite ions then combine with hemoglobin to produce methaemoglobin, blocking the transport of oxygen. The result is a form of oxygen deprivation.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  2. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne. pp. 388–9. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6. 
  3. ^ Greenlee, H.; Abascal, K.; Yarnell, E.; Ladas, E. (2007). "Clinical Applications of Silybum marianum in Oncology". Integrative Cancer Therapies 6 (2): 158–65. doi:10.1177/1534735407301727. PMID 17548794. 
  4. ^ a b c Kroll, D. J.; Shaw, H. S.; Oberlies, N. H. (2007). "Milk Thistle Nomenclature: Why It Matters in Cancer Research and Pharmacokinetic Studies". Integrative Cancer Therapies 6 (2): 110–9. doi:10.1177/1534735407301825. PMID 17548790. 
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Silybum marianum is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental, a minor vegetable, or as a medicinal herb. Young shoots can be boiled and eaten like cabbage and young leaves can be added to salads. The seeds can be used as a coffee substitute. Extracts of S. marianum are used as an herbal treatment for liver ailments.
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