Cnicus benedictus 

Gezegende distel

Familie: Asteraceae - Samengesteldbloemigen (Composieten).

Materia medica: Cnici benedicti herba = tijdens de be­gin­nende bloei­tijd ingezamelde blade­ren en bloeiende toppen.



1 koffiel. = 5 g

Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus L. [Asteraceae]) is a Mediterranean weed; it is occasionally found in North America (Hitchcock and Cronquist, 1987). The dried aerial parts are used as a galactagogue; (Gladstar, 1993; Grieve, 1971; Weed, 1986) it is considered to be one of the best galactagogue herbs. It is usually taken in capsules or as a tea. It is said to work by stimulating the flow of blood to the mammary glands, and thereby enriching the milk flow (Gladstar, 1993), but this theory has not been confirmed in a laboratory or clinical setting. There have been no clinical trials of blessed thistle as a galactagogue.

Blessed thistle was historically reputed to be a heal-all, and was even said to heal the plague. (Grieve, 1971) It is recommended for birthing and nursing mothers because of its hemostatic properties, which reduce the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage (Gladstar, 1993), and because of its antidepressant effects (Weed, 1986).

Famed for its ability to increase milk supply, Cnicus benedictus is best used as a tincture; up to 20 drops, two to four times daily is the usual dose. It is said to remove suicidal feelings and lift depression as well. -Weed, 1986: 85 Blessed thistle is approved by the German Commission E for loss of appetite and dyspepsia (Blumenthal et al., 2000). It is rich in a sesquiterpene lactone called cnicin (Blumenthal et al., 2000), which stimulates digestive enzymes and bile secretions (Blumenthal et al., 2000; Gladstar, 1993). The Commission E does not recommended blessed thistle for use during pregnancy and lactation, and its popularity as a galactagogue is not mentioned in their monograph (Blumenthal, 2000). The plant is strongly emetic in large doses (Grieve, 1971), so it should not be overused. It is reputedly an effective emmenagogue and thus should be avoided by pregnant women (Bartram, 1998).

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Cnicus benedictus Internetlinks

Monograph Cnicus benedictus

The chemical constituents of Cnicus benedictus showed that it contained sesquiterpene lactone glycosides, cnicin, polyacetylen, absinthin, salonitenolide and artemisiifolin. Triterpenoids such as a-amyrenone, a-amyrin acetate, aamyrine, and multiflorenol acetate. Lignans such as trachelogenin, nortracheloside and arctigenin. Flavonoids, including apigenin-7-O-glucoside, luteolin and astragalin. Tannins contents reached (8%). essential and volatile oils (0.3%) including n-nonane, n-undecane, n- tridecane, dodeca-l,ll-dien-3,5,7,9-tetrain (polyyne), p-cymene, fenchon, citral, cinnamaldehyde, were also isolated from the plant. It was also contained many nutritional components, minerals and trace elements. The previous pharmacological studies showed that Cnicus benedictus possessedantimicrobial, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, enhancing digestion and increasing bile secretion. This  review will highlight the chemical constituents, pharmacological and toxicological effects of Cnicus benedictus.

Pharmacological Effects

Antimicrobial Effects

The antimicrobial effect of the aqueous solutions obtained from the soft extract of Cnicus benedictus flowers was investigated. The test was performed on Mueller - Hinton and blood-agar culture medium, on 8 standardized bacterial strains (Salmonella typhimurium ATCC 14028, Salmonella enteritidis ATCC 13076, Staphylococcus aureusssp. ATCC 25923, Staphylococcus aureus ssp. ATCC 29213, Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, Escherichia coli ATCC 35218, Streptococcus pyogenes Gp ATCC 19615, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853, Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212 and Shigella sonnei ATCC 25931) and microbiological strains (Staphilococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and urine Escherichia coli) obtained from infected secretions, using the diffusimetric method. The antimicrobial action of the plant extracts was confirmed against all bacterial strains, it exerted inhibition zones, of approximately the same values, at solutions with different concentrations. However, the values obtained revealed significant differences of the intensity of the antimicrobial activity of the mature and immature flowers extract [54].

The antimicrobial activities of the main sesquiterpene lactones, onopordopicrin and cnicin, were assayed. Resultsshowed that cnicin possessed antibacterial activities against a panel of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Remarkable antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was also recorded [55] The sesquiterpene lactones cnicin and cynaropicrin were potent, irreversible inhibitors of the bacterial enzyme MurA. They covalently bind to the thiol group of Cys115. Judging from the structure-activity relationships, the esterside chain of cynaropicrin and cnicin is of particular importance for the inhibition of MurA [56].Some ester derivatives prepared from cnicin, a germacranolide sesquiterpenoid were tested for their antibacterial activity. The 8,15-diesters showed a good activity, comparable with that of cnicin [57].

Cytotoxic Effects

Aqueous extracts prepared from Cnicus benedictus showed no cytotoxic effect in vitro against three human cancer cell lines: DU-145 prostate cancer cells, MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells and a non-malignant breast cell line, MCF-12A [58]. Cnicin and 4'-acetylcnicin were evaluated for their tumour cell growth inhibitory activities on HeLa, MCF-7 and A431 cells. It appeared that they were moderately active compounds [59].

Investigation of cytotoxic activities of the pure sesquiterpene lactones, cnicin showed that it possessed high cytotoxicity against human-derived macrophages [55]. Cytotoxic activity of cnicin was observed toward pig kidney epithelial (LLC-PK₁₁), human malignant melanoma (SK-MEL) and human ductal carcinoma (BT-549) cells with IC₅₀ values of 23.3, 14.0 and 18.3 µM, respectively [60].

The cytotoxic effect of cnicin was evaluated in multiple myeloma. Cnicin treatment revealed potent antiproliferative effects and induced cell death in cell lines and primary myeloma cells even in the presence of survival cytokines and the tumor microenvironment. Other cell lines of hematopoietic origin also succumb to cell death whereas stromal cells and endothelial cells were unaffected. Combining cnicin with current standard or experimental therapeutics leads to enhanced cell death. The activation of caspases, accumulation of reactive oxygen species and downregulation of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cell contribute to the cytotoxic effects ofcnicin. Microarray analysis reveals downregulation of Pim-2, a serine/threonine kinase. Pim-2 constitutes a new survival kinase for myeloma cells in vitro and is highly expressed in malignant but not in normal plasma cells in vivo.The authors concluded that cnicin induces myeloma cell death via several pathways and revealed Pim-2 as a novel target [61].

Cnicin also inhibited the root growth of lettuce. Growth, particularly of the roots, was retarded in a concentration of 1 and 4 mg of cnicin [62].

Antiinflammatory Effect

In investigation of anti-inflammatory effect of cnicin, cnicin was subjected to a panel of cellular assays to test for inhibition of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and reactive oxygen species. Cnicin showed inhibition of NF-κB and inhibition of iNOS activity with IC₅₀ Values of 1.8 and 6.5 µM, respectively [60]. 

Wound healing

10g of the plant root powder was added to 50g Vaseline to prepare a cream used for treatment of wound induced in rats. The dorsal skin of rats was shaved, a wound was made in the dorsal area of the rats (1cm2 ). Wound healing effect of Cnicus benedictus root ointment was checked daily, the results indicate that treatment of rats with the test product isolated from root’s powder shows a total wound healing after 14 days against more than fourteen days by the ointment control (Baneocin®). However, the comparison of the activity of the plant powder with the reference product on rats showed that the cream of Cnicus benedictus has a potent activity with a percentage reduction of wound (98.81 %) at day 14, against those treated by (Baneocin®) ointment (95.69%) [48].

 Enhances digestion and increase bile secretion

LIV-A is a combination formulated by the late Paavo Airola. This combination contained (for each capsule) (Petroselinum crispum) leaves, 19.8 mg of blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) herb, 16.8 mg of angelica (Angelica archangelica) root, 15.8 mg of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) flower, 12.9 mg of gentian (Gentiana lutea) root, 8.9 mg of goldenrod (Solidaga virgaurea). It was used to restore normal liver function. The herbs in LIV-A enhance the digestion and detoxifying functions of the body by working especially to increase the secretion and release of bile [63].

Dose: Infusions are prepared by pouring boiling water over 1.5 to 2 gm of drug, allowing to set, then straining after 10 to 20 minutes. Daily Dosage: Four to 6 g of drug. The dosage for the aromatic bitter is 1 cup 1/2 hour before meals. One cup of tea is taken 3 times a day. Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day. Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol): 1.5-3.0 ml, three times daily [68-69]. 


47. Kataria H. Phytochemical investigation of medicinal plant Cnicus wallichii and Cnicus benedictus L. Asian J Chem 1995;7:227-228. 48. Djamila C, Akym A, Faiza M, Chahinez B and Nacer-bey N. Anatomical, phytochemical and pharmacological studies of roots of Cnicus benedictus L. International Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2013; 2(2): 204-208. 49. Vanhaelen-Fastre R. Constitution and antibiotical properties of the essential oil of Cnicus benedictus L. Planta Med 1973; 24(2):165-175. 50. Vanhaelen - Fastre R. Polyacetylen compounds from Cnicus benedictus L. Planta Medica 1974;25:47-59. 51. Ulbelen A and Berkan T. Triterpenic and steroidal compounds of Cnicus benedictus L. Planta Medica 1977; (31):375-377. 52. Horn G, Kupfer A, Rademacher A, Kluge H, Kalbitz J, Eißner H and Drager B. Cnicus benedictus as a potential low input oil crop. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 2015; 117(4): 561-566. 53. Dulger D and Sahan T. Wild edible plant: Cnicus benedictus. Book of Abstracts of the EuroFoodChem XVII, ARBER Congress Management System, Euro Food Chem XVII, Istanbul- Turkey, 7-10 May 2013, 54. Ildiko S, Pallag A, Bidar CF. The antimicrobial activity of the Cnicus benedictus L. extracts. Analele Universitatii din Oradea Fascicula Biologie 2009; 1: 126-128. 55. De Courtade SB, Fortuna MA, Attarian R, de Trimarco JT, Catalan C and Av-Gay Y. Antibacterial and cytotoxic activities of the sesquiterpene lactones cnicin and onopordopicrin. Natural Product Communications 2011;6(2):163-166. 56. Bachelier A, Mayer R and Klein CD. Sesquiterpene lactones are potent and irreversible inhibitors of the antibacterial target enzyme MurA. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2006;16(21):5605-5609. 57. Bruno M Rosselli S, Maggio A, Raccuglia RA, Napolitano F and Senatore F. Antibacterial evaluation of cnicin and some natural and semisynthetic analogues. Planta Med 2003;69(3):277-281. 58. Steenkamp V and Gouws MC. Cytotoxicity of six South African medicinal plant extracts used in the treatment of cancer. South African Journal of Botany 2006; 72(4):630-633. 59. Forgo P, Zupkó I, Molnár J, Vasas A, Dombi G and Hohmann J. Bioactivity-guided isolation of antiproliferative compounds from Centaurea jacea L. Fitoterapia 2012; 83(5):921-925. 60. Erel SB, Karaalp C, Bedir E, Kaehlig H, Glasl S, Khan S and Krenn L. Secondary metabolites of Centaurea calolepis and evaluation of cnicin for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cytotoxic activities. Pharm Biol 2011; 49(8):840-849. 61. Jöhrer K, Obkircher M, Neureiter D, Parteli J, Zelle-Rieser C, Maizner E, Kern J, Hermann M, Hamacher F, Merkel O, Wacht N, Zidorn C, Scheideler M and Greil R. Antimyeloma activity of the sesquiterpene lactone cnicin: impact on Pim-2 kinase as a novel therapeutic target. Journal of Molecular Medicine 2012; 90(6):681-693. 62. Kelsey RG and Locken LJ. Phytotoxic properties of cnicin, a sesquiterpene lactone from Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed). J Chem Ecol 1987;13(1):19-33. 63. Nature’s Sunshine Products of Canada Ltd. LIV-A DIN 02238346, capsules, Herbal combination, 64. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R and Goldberg A. American herbal products association's botanical safety handbook. Boca Raton, New York: CRC Press 1997: 231. 65. McGuffin M, Kartesz JT, Leung AY and Tucker AO (ed.). Herbs of commerce, 2nd edition. Silver Spring (MD): American Herbal Products Association 2000. 66. Kemper KJ. Blessed thistle, Longwood herbal task force: (June 24, 1999)

Vroeger gebruik van gezegende distel vlgs Dodonaeus en anderen

Zo was het gebruik vroeger. (Dodonaeus)

De gedroogde delen zijn zeer bitter en in de apotheek bekend als herba Cardui benedicti. Dit wordt in de voorzomer in het begin van de bloei verzameld. De stof behoort tot de bittere stoffen die tot bevordering van eetlust worden ingenomen. De plant dankt zijn genezende werking aan het zeer bittere melksap dat een bacteriedodend middel bevat. Het wordt nu alleen nog maar bij dieren gebruikt.

Een afkooksel, 5 gram op een tot twee delen water, is een volksmiddel tegen maag en leverziektes, chronische catarre, wisselkoortsen. Het is een onderdeel van bittere kruiden die met gelijke delen Artemisia, duizendguldenkruid en deze plant bestaan waarvan 15 gram op een tot twee koppen genomen wordt en zou goed zijn tegen maag en darmproblemen. Net zo de benedictenwijn, 2 gram op 100 gram wijn.

Volgens Bock;  Ik moet hier ettelijke Empirica of beroemde stukken zoals ze tot me zijn gekomen aanwijzen, eerst zal dit kruid Cardo Benedict keizer Fridrichen uit India tot een heerlijke verering toegekomen zijn, werd daarbij gezegd zo iemand dit kruid wat in de spijs of drank gebruikt die zal voor de grote hoofdpijn (welke boven de ogen woedt) en van ettelijken de Nagel genoemd behoedt worden. Gemeld kruid genoten in spijs en drank zal de duizeligheid verdrijven, goede gedachtenis brengen en dat verloren gehoor weer brengen.‘