Comforting and cleansing, our milk thistle tea recipe is a delicious and simple way to enjoy the benefits of this impressive plant. Drink up to help support the health of your liver and cleanse your body.
Mystical milk thistle
Native to the Mediterranean region, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a robust and striking plant that grows on rocky slopes and outcrops. It has spiky purple flowers that draw the eye, surrounded by sharp, shiny green leaves lined with pale white veins. According to legend, these white streaks appeared when a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk fell on the plant’s leaves. This is why people also refer to the milk thistle by holy-sounding nicknames such as blessed milkthistle and Mary’s thistle. Despite its spiny appearance, it’s actually from the same family as the daisy and the sunflower. In addition to it featuring in religious folklore, people have been using milk thistle as a traditional remedy for generations. It’s believed that the Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides (40–90 AD) was the first person to mention the plant’s healing properties.(1) Since then, numerous herbalists across the ages have written about its medicinal benefits. Meanwhile, modern scientific studies are finding convincing evidence to back up the veracity of these claims. There are lots of different ways in which you can take milk thistle. The leaves, stem and seeds are all edible, and you can steep them in hot water to make a basic milk thistle organic tea. Another option is to use the seeds to brew an alternative to coffee. With Erbology, you can get cold-pressed milk thistle oil and milk thistle powder – like the one we use in this recipe. You can then add these to soups, stews and smoothies to make your life easier!
The milk thistle tea recipe: soothing for body and mind
While it’s possible to cook and eat milk thistle leaves, stalks and flowers in salads and other dishes, nowadays it’s quite tricky to find fresh plants to work with. That’s another reason why choosing to use milk thistle powder or oil is more convenient. You’re able to include these in all sorts of recipes – including milk thistle tea. Technically, you can make milk thistle tea by just stirring milk thistle powder into hot water. However, with the addition of just a few simple ingredients, you can create a truly delicious and soul-warming drink in under 10 minutes. In our opinion, the extra effort is more than worth it! The base of this recipe is unsweetened oat milk, which gives the tea a rich and creamy texture. Feel free to substitute this for any other type of plant-based milk, such as almond or coconut, if you prefer. However, remember that if you use a sweetened variety, you might like to alter the amount of honey or agave nectar you add. This will help to balance out the flavour of the drink. Speaking of sweeteners, you’ll notice that in the recipe, we’ve given you some leeway in terms of how much you want to use. This enables you to adjust the taste to suit your palate or the time of day you’re enjoying your milk thistle tea. Incidentally, if you don’t have honey or agave nectar on hand, maple syrup can be a great alternative for adding sweetness. Whichever you choose, it will be a perfect counterpart for the slight bitterness of the milk thistle powder.
Milk thistle powder brings a nutty flavor to the tea, which we complement with the addition of crushed cardamom pods. This spice comes from various plants in the ginger family, and is a common ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern and Swedish cuisine. The taste is piney yet subtly sweet, suiting beverages, desserts, and savory dishes. It’s a fantastic way to bring extra warmth, aroma and vibrancy to milk thistle tea. This is especially true when you pair it with a sprinkle of cinnamon at the end. There are two main types of cardamom – green and black – which each have a unique flavor. Use green cardamom for a hint of lemon and mint, or black cardamom if you want more of a smoky note to your milk thistle tea. You might also come across white cardamom, which is similar to green cardamom, but with a less intense taste. Cardamom has plenty of health benefits of its own. These include helping to lower blood pressure and protect the liver, making it an ideal addition to liver health-supporting milk thistle tea.(2)(3) It can even improve oral health and tackle bad breath by fighting the common mouth bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities.(4) Therefore, you can feel confident enjoying a cup before heading out!
Silymarin: the source of milk thistle tea benefits
While cardamom offers a range of health-boosting properties, the real star of this recipe is, of course, the milk thistle. This versatile ingredient can have a cleansing and detoxifying effect on the body, helping to improve your overall wellness. This is largely thanks to silymarin, the plant’s active ingredient. Silymarin is a group of plant compounds that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It can help to fight free radicals and protect the body from the oxidative damage they cause. Silymarin is generally considered safe for human consumption. However, the one caveat to this is that people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive are advised not to take it. It’s also sensible to speak to your doctor before taking milk thistle if you’re currently on any prescription medication. This will just ensure that there won’t be any unwanted interactions between them.
What is milk thistle tea good for?
So, what exactly can the silymarin in milk thistle tea help with? Firstly, it’s thought to be beneficial for your liver. Some studies suggest that it can improve liver function in those suffering from liver diseases or damage.(5) Interestingly, milk thistle may also be useful in protecting the liver from certain toxins contained in poisonous mushrooms.(6) Another potential benefit of milk thistle tea relates to the brain. Traditionally used to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s, research indicates that its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may have a neuroprotective effect. This could assist in preventing or slowing down cognitive decline.(7) Although further studies need to be conducted to confirm the exact impact of milk thistle in these areas, the results are looking positive so far! In addition to silymarin, milk thistle seeds are also rich in vitamin E. This has a wealth of potential health benefits, including nourishing your skin, supporting the immune system, and protecting the health of your eyes. Moreover, some studies suggest that vitamin E may help to stop or delay cognitive decline, although further research is required to clarify this.(8)