Milk thistle is an annual or biennial plant and grows from 2-6 feet tall. The shiny green leaves are oblong o lance like and can be with oblong with distinctive white marbling. Hairless with spiny margins and white veins. Its important to get to know the plant you are using to you have a knowledge of what to look for in identifying the plant. This can help you tremendously in the long run and if you’re anything like me its fun. The stem is grooved and hollow in larger plants. Reddish-purple flowers appear from June to august they are 1-5 inches across. 

Eat milk thistle roots raw, boiled or roasted. The young shoots are harvested in the spring and boiled like spinach. Some people peel the sitter stems and soak them overnight before cooking. It is best to trim the leaves and stems to removed the spines before cooking and eating. You can eat the spiny bracts on the flower head like an artichoke. Milk thistle is high in potassium nitrate!

Both leaves and the seeds are used medicinally. The seeds can be eaten raw; and both the leaves and seeds can be used as a true, exact or tea. grind the seeds into a powder and put it in a capsule. Make a tincture of milk thistle and dandelion root for your liver. Silymarin, the most actively medicinal compound in milk thistle is only found in the seed the liver. 

Milk thistle seeds are an excellent way for decreasing or even reversing liver damage cause by disease, environmental pollution, chemotherapy, poisons and drug or alcohol abuse. Dramatically improves liver regeneration in hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice and fatty liver syndrome.

Prevents gallstones and kidney stones; milk thistle seeds support the endocrine and  gastrointestinal systems and helps clean the blood. Its works closely with the liver and other digestive organs to purify the body and reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones. 

Fun Fact: milk thistle seeds ability to protect the liver is so strong that it is even able to treat peopled posited by Amanita mushrooms, which destroyed the liver.

Milk thistle leaves have some estrogen like effects that stimulate mensuration and increases the flow of milk in breast feeding mothers. This plant is high in anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory and flavonoids that reduce the inflammation of acne. 

Harvesting you should always wear protective clothing and heavy gloves.  Milk thistle is very irritating to the skin. Cut off young flower heals with scissors and young leaves from the stalk. Harvest milk thistle seeds by cutting off the seed-heads and placing them in a paper bag in a cool, dry spot. After the seeds dry, remove them dim the seed head, one at a t time and brush away the debris. The cleaned seeds store I best in a container with a tight lid. 

Warning: pregnant women should not use. Women with estrogen related condition such as endometriosis, fibroids  and cancers if the ovaries, breast or uterus should not use milk thistle. Do not use milk thistle if you are allergic to the Asteracae/Compositae plant family.