3 weeks ago
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Ask Me A Question!
I'm no longer writing you from the beautiful hills and vales of Sonoma County, but from the vast farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley. What a whirlwind the last couple months have been! And as the song (almost) goes "I left my heart in north bay San Francisco". ;)
But I'm excited to get farmin' and herbin' in The Valley. It's going to take some time (and $) to get going, so in the mean time I'm looking for a "normal job". And in the mean time on this blog, I thought I'd ask you for your herb, botany, alt medicine, hippie, etc questions!
This is inspired by my friend Vivian who asked in a comment (a long time ago, sorry I'm so slow!):
"I'm curious. What are milk thistle good for?, because there are a ton at my parent's cabin. All they do it poke us!"
Milk thistle is good for your liver. The seeds in particular are the medicinal part of the plant. The leaves are nutritious; you could cut off the barbs and put them in your salads, sandwiches, ... But it's really the seeds you want.
Milk thistle has prominent white venation on the leaves. If you're finding wild thistles with white variegated leaves, you'll want to make sure what you've found is Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), not Italian Thistle. On Italian Thistle the venation is lighter. Milk Thistle flowers are bigger (2-6cm vs 1-2cm), and the stems on Italian Thistle have spines, but Milk Thistle does not. Italian Thistle seeds are not medicinal.
Since Viv's question was about the thistle she found growing wild, I'd suggest collecting the seeds (careful for those barbs!), by cutting the dieing, but not dead, flowers with a foot or so of stalk. Put them upside down in a paper bag, then let them dry. Many of the seeds will fall out to the bottom of the bag. This will save you some time (and some fingers!). After that you can pull out the rest of the seeds from the flower head by hand. Then just grind the seeds up, and sprinkle them on your food like pepper! What an easy way to get your medicine ;)