Milk Thistle

(Silybum marianum) The white veins of the leaves were believed to be due to the Virgin Mary spilling milk from her breast, hence the common name, and also the specific name, marianum. So the doctrine of signatures caused it to be taken as a proper diet for wet nurses (Page. 1978). Another remedy derived from the doctrine is its use to cure stitch in the side, for this plant has numerous prickles (Dyer. 1889). But herbalists prescribe the plant for many other disorders, particularly as a tincture made from the seeds, for liver disorders, jaundice, gallstones, etc. It can be chewed, too, as an anti-depressant (Boland. 1977), a fact known by Gerard's sources. An Irish country remedy for whooping cough was to boil it in water, and then drink the liquid (Maloney) and the juice was put on warts in East Anglia (V G Hatfield).

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