Milk thistle. Saint-Mary-thistle fruits

Milk thistle. Saint-Mary-thistle fruits

Milk thistle. Saint-Mary-thistle fruits

Specification & Spread

Saint-Mary-thistle fruits — fructus silybi mariani
Saint-Mary-thistle — silybum marianum (l.) Gaertn.
Composite family – asteraceae (compositae)
Other names: holy thistle, lady’s-milk.

It is a herbaceous biennial plant (annual in culture) with upright stem 60-150 cm tall, covered with powdery coating.
The leaves are alternate, large, oblong-elliptical, pinnatilobate or pinhole, leathery, dark green, shiny, speckled with shiny white transverse broken stripes and spots, on the edge of the plate and veins on the underside are prickly; the lower – petiolate, the upper – sessile and stalk-wide. The inflorescences are spherical apical single baskets on thin peduncles.
The leaflets of the cover are green, imbricated, the outer and middle ones with a protruding leafy, spiny, rigid appendage.
The flowers are all tubular, purple-crimson, pink or white. The fruit is marble-spotted, dark brown or black with longitudinal light lines, elliptical bare achene up to 7 mm long, with a tuft 2-3 times longer than the achene.

It blooms from July to late autumn, the fruits ripen unevenly in August – September. It is propagated by seeds.

Spreading. It grows in the central and southern regions of the European part, in the Caucasus, in the south of Western Siberia, in Central Asia. Widely distributed in Western Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa and southern Australia. Milk thistle’s country is South and Atlantic Europe.

Habitat. It grows on dry places, steppe areas, on abandoned fields, along roads, on wastelands and dumps, as weed and ruderal in settlements. Often bred in vegetable gardens as an ornamental and medicinal plant. The preparation of the raw materials is carried out in specialized farms.


The chemical composition of milk thistle

Milk thistle fruits contain:

  • flavolignans (2.8-3.8%):
  • silybin,
  • silydianin,
  • silichristin and others,
  • up to 32% of fatty oil,
  • tar,
  • slime,
  • as well as biogenic amines (tyramine, histamine).

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting and drying. The harvesting of fruits is produced in late August – September, during the drying of the wrappers on most side baskets. The above-ground part is mowed, dried on the current and threshed, while the tuft on the seeds easily breaks off. The fruits are separated from impurities and dried in dryers.

Storage. It is stored in warehouses in dry and well-ventilated areas.

The achenes are without tuft, egg-shaped, slightly flattened laterally, 5 to 8 mm long, 2 to 4 mm wide. The tip is oblique with a protruding remainder of the column, with a roller around it or with no residue of the column. The base of achene is blunt, the cicatrix is slit-like or rounded.
The surface is smooth, sometimes longitudinally wrinkled, shiny, less often matte.
The colour is from black to light brown, sometimes with a lilac shade, often the fruits are spotty. The smell is absent, the taste is slightly bitter.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Hepatoprotective agent.
The pharmacological properties of milk thistle

Flavolignan of milk thistle have a hepatoprotective effect:

  • improve metabolic processes in the liver, increasing its resistance to adverse conditions;
  • increase the activity of the enzymatic systems of the liver;
  • accelerate the regeneration of liver cells after its damage, toxic effects and after infectious diseases.

Application of milk thistle

The preparations are based on the amount of milk thistle flavolignans are used as: hepatoprotective agents for:

  • toxic liver damage,
  • acute and chronic hepatitis,
  • cirrhosis of the liver,
  • lipid metabolism,
  • fatty liver.

Pathology of the biliary tract in the acute stage, individual intolerance, pregnancy and lactation.