Burdock Vs Thistle: 9 Really Massive and Powerful Health Benefits

It’s time for another comparison article. Today we’re looking at the burdock vs thistle discussion. The clarification on which thistle plant we are looking at here plays a key part. We’re not just looking at any old thistle. We’re looking at burdock vs milk thistle (Silybum marianum).

What’s the Difference between Milk Thistle and Common Thistle?

For clarification, milk thistle and common thistle are not the same plant, although they are closely related.

Common thistle, also known as spear thistle, is a weed that is native to Europe and Asia. It has very spiky leaves, and it is known for being a nuisance in agricultural fields and gardens. While it is considered as a weed, it is not traditionally used for medicinal purposes.

Where as milk thistle, on the other hand, is a plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has large, spiky leaves that are deeply lobed, and it is known for its use in supporting liver health.

The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is thought to protect the liver from damage caused by toxins such as alcohol and certain medications. [1]

While they are closely related, they are used for very different purposes. Common thistle is mainly known as a weed while Milk thistle is used for medicinal purposes, particularly for liver support.

How does Silymarin Support Human Health?

As the main compound of interest in the burdock vs thistle discussion, let’s take a closer look at silymarin. Silymarin is a flavonoid compound that is found in the seeds of the milk thistle plant. It is believed to have several beneficial effects on human health, primarily related to its ability to protect and support liver function and aid in the protecting against gastrointestinal disease. [2]

Silymarin is believed to have antioxidant properties, which means it may help to neutralize free radicals. [3]

Additionally, Silymarin has been shown to help increase the production of new liver cells and reduce inflammation in the liver. [4]

Silymarin is commonly used as a dietary supplement to support liver health and protect it from toxins. The compound may also be used to treat or prevent liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatitis.

Silymarin is also being researched as a potential therapy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is a growing health concern in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. [5]

It is worth mentioning that while there is some evidences of Silymarin’s benefits, most of the studies are still in pre-clinical phase. Logically, larger and more well-designed studies are needed to confirm these findings and establish the safety and appropriate dosages for use in humans.

But let’s get back to the broader burdock vs thistle discussion.

Are Burdock and Milk Thistle the same?

No, burdock and milk thistle are not the same. They are different plants that have different uses and characteristics.

Burdock is a biennial plant in the Asteraceae family, native to Europe and Asia. The plant’s root is used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments, including skin conditions and digestive issues. Burdock root is also used as a food source in some cultures.

If you want to know more about the uses of burdock and find out the answer to ‘can burdock root be eaten?’ then check out Is Burdock Root Good For You? Unlock 7+ Stunning Benefits

Milk thistle, on the other hand, is a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family, native to Mediterranean regions.

The Burdock vs Thistle Use Cases

As much as there are differences, burdock and milk thistle are both plants that have been used for medicinal purposes. They do, however, have different properties and are used to treat different conditions.

Burdock vs Thistle
Who will win in the burdock vs thistle showdown? Does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t it be both?

Burdock root is most commonly used for medicinal purposes, and it is often used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne, as well as other conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. We looked more closely at the burdock root benefits in a previous article.

While an interesting use case for milk thistle is as a potential treatment for cancer.

Milk thistle has been traditionally used as a natural remedy to help protect the liver from toxins and diseases, but recent research has also suggested that it may have anti-cancer properties. [5]

Some in-vitro studies have found that the previously mentioned silymarin can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may even induce cancer cell death (apoptosis) in some types of cancer. [6]

There has been some research on the effectiveness of milk thistle as an adjunctive treatment in some specific types of cancer such as liver cancer and breast cancer. However, more well-designed studies are needed to confirm the findings and establish the safety and appropriate dosages for use in humans. [7]

It is important to note that while milk thistle may have some potential as a natural remedy for cancer, it is not a substitute for standard medical treatment. It’s not recommended to use milk thistle as a replacement for cancer treatment, and it’s important to consult with a qualified medical professional before taking milk thistle or any other supplement if you have cancer.

Thistle vs Burdock Root Benefits

This article exploring the burdock vs thistle topic underpins the burdock root benefits mentioned in the article above. As we have already covered these in extensive detail, we won’t go into them again here. So check out that article for a full rundown.

Stick with me here, we will take a much closer look at milk thistle together in the next section below.

Now, it is worth noting that the HerbiTea Iron Fluorine tea blend contains burdock root. This is why we are looking at the comparison between burdock vs thistle.

Is Burdock Root Good For You

Where this becomes relevant is that traditionally, the root of the milk thistle plant has not been used as frequently as the seeds in medicinal preparations.

There are some reports of use of the root as a treatment for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and other cutaneous conditions, and also as a digestive aid and to address some liver conditions. [8]

The medicinal properties of the root are not as well-studied as the milk thistle seeds, or as burdock root, and more research is needed to confirm its potential benefits and to determine appropriate dosages.

9 Benefits of Milk Thistle

As we dig deeper into the burdock vs thistle topic we need to consider isolating the milk thistle benefits. So, what are milk thistle seeds good for? Milk thistle seeds have been traditionally used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and modern research has supported some of these traditional uses. Some of the most well-established uses of milk thistle seeds include:

  1. Supporting liver health
    • As previously touched upon, milk thistle seeds contain the flavonoid compound silymarin, which is believed to have liver-protective properties. Silymarin is believed to help increase the production of new liver cells and reduce inflammation in the liver. Milk thistle seeds are commonly used as a dietary supplement to support liver health and protect it from toxins. [2, 3, 4]
  2. Treating liver diseases
    • Also touched upon previously, milk thistle seeds may be used to treat or prevent liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatitis. It may also be helpful to reduce symptoms and progression of liver damage from certain toxic agents like alcohol, drugs and environmental toxins. [4, 9]
  3. Lowering blood sugar
    • Milk thistle has been traditionally used to lower blood sugar, and some studies have found that it may be beneficial in people with type 2 diabetes. Silymarin found in seeds may increase insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. [5, 10]
  4. Helping skin conditions
    • Milk thistle seeds contain silymarin which is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may be beneficial in treating a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. [8]
  5. Cancer prevention
    • Some in-vitro studies have found that silymarin, the active compound found in milk thistle seeds, can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may even induce cancer cell death in some types of cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and establish the safety of milk thistle as a cancer treatment. [6, 7, 11]
  6. Preventing kidney damage
    • Milk thistle seeds have traditionally been used to protect the kidneys, and some research suggests that they may be effective in preventing kidney damage caused by certain medications or toxins. [12]
  7. Enhancing heart health
    • Some animal studies suggest that milk thistle seeds may be beneficial for heart health, as it may lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as improving overall cardiovascular function. [13]
  8. Anti-inflammatory effects
    • Milk thistle seed extract have been traditionally used as anti-inflammatory, and some in-vitro and animal studies have supported these properties, however more research is needed to confirm if these effects apply to humans. [14]
  9. Boosting the Immune system
    • A few studies suggested that milk thistle may boost the immune system and protect against infections. [15, 16]

Burdock vs Thistle FAQs

Are Burdock and Milk Thistle the same?

No, they are not the same. They are different plants with different characteristics, potential uses, and benefits. For more about this, consider the distinguishing points covered in the burdock vs thistle differences section above.

Is Burdock the same as Thistle?

No. Burdock is different to thistle, regardless of it being common thistle or milk thistle. There are different parts of the plants that are sought for use as a result of their different characteristics. Some distinguishing characteristics are provided in the burdock vs thistle differences section discussed earlier.

Is Burdock Milk Thistle?

No. Burdock is not milk thistle. These are two completely different plants, however, they are from the same family being the Asteraceae family. For more about telling one from the other, take a look at the burdock vs thistle differences section in the opening of this article.

Is Burdock in the Thistle Family?

Yes. Burdock is in the same family as thistles. They are both in the Asteraceae family which is the largest family of flowering plants. This family consists of more than 20,000 species and more than 1,600 genera. These plants are characterized by their composite flowers, which are made up of many small flowers arranged in a central disk surrounded by a ring of ray flowers.

How do you Identify Burdock?

Burdock plants are large biennials, growing up to 6 feet tall. They have a central stem with large, oval-shaped leaves that can be up to a foot long. The leaves of burdock are large, fuzzy and arranged alternately on the stem. They have a heart-shaped base and a wavy or irregular margin. The flowers of burdock are small and purple or pink, arranged in clusters at the top of the stem. They are typically about an inch wide and have many small florets.

We looked more closely at the characteristics of burdock and provided a detailed comparison to cocklebur which we included in a previous article looking at burdock vs cocklebur.

Can you take Milk Thistle and Burdock together?

There is no specific research that has been conducted on the combination of milk thistle and burdock. However, both plants are commonly used in traditional medicine for liver support and general detoxification, so it’s possible that taking them together could have additive effects.

If you are planning to take both Milk thistle and Burdock supplements together, they should be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional as they can interact with certain medications and may have different dosages and side effects.

What is the difference between Italian Thistle vs Milk Thistle

Italian thistle and milk thistle are both plants, but they are different species.
Italian thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus) is a invasive and noxious weed in the Asteraceae family, native to the Mediterranean region, but can be found throughout many parts of the world, particularly in arid and semi-arid habitats. It is known for its large, spiny leaves, and bright purple, thistle-like flowers.

Milk thistle is a medicinal plant in the same family. The plant has a tall, spiky stem and large, spiny leaves with white veins. The flowers are typically purple or pink and they produce a dark brown seed with a white, fleshy pappus.

Conclusion

Wrapping up the burdock vs thistle discussion, burdock root is used in traditional medicine for a wide range of ailments, including skin conditions, digestive issues and it has also been traditionally used as a blood purifier and diuretic.

Thistle, on the other hand, is a common name for a group of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae, which includes a variety of different species, such as Milk thistle, Scotch thistle, and Canada thistle.

Each of them have their own characteristics, uses, and medicinal properties.

As we have focused on here, milk thistle is most commonly used for liver problems, with other benefits being researched.

It’s important to note that despite being in the same family, Burdock and Thistle are different plants and should not be confused. I hope this burdock vs thistle review has provided some value to you. Please share your questions or feedback in the comments section below.

References

  1. “Milk thistle” – Mount Sinai Staff, Last Checked 12 January 2023 [Mount Sinai] [Archive]
  2. “Dietary Interventions in Gastrointestinal Diseases – Chapter 23 – Polyphenols in the Prevention of Ulcerative Colitis: A Revisit” – E. Saldanha, A. Saxena, K. Kaur, F. Kalekhan, P. Venkatesh, R. Fayad, S. Rao, T. George, M. S. Baliga, 8 February 2019 [ScienceDirect] [Archive]
  3. “Silymarin as a Natural Antioxidant: An Overview of the Current Evidence and Perspectives” – P. F. Surai, 20 March 2015 [PubMed] [Archive]
  4. “Silymarin as Supportive Treatment in Liver Diseases: A Narrative Review” – A. Gillessen, H. H. J. Schmidt, 17 February 2020 [PubMed] [Archive]
  5. “The therapeutic effect of silymarin in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty disease” – S. Zhong, Y. Fan, Q. Yan, X. Fan, B. Wu, Y. Han, Y. Zhang, Y. Chen, H. Zhang, J. Niu, 8 December 2017 [PubMed] [Archive]
  6. “Role of Silymarin in Cancer Treatment: Facts, Hypotheses, and Questions” – T. Koltai, L. Fliegel, 12 January 2022 [PubMed] [Archive]
  7. “Silymarin inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells via regulation of the MAPK signaling pathway and induction of apoptosis” – S. H. Kim, G. S. Choo, E. S. Yoo, J. S. Woo, J. H. Lee, S. H. Han, S. H. Jung, H. J. Kim, J. Y. Jung, 26 April 2021 [PubMed] [Archive]
  8. “Formulation and clinical evaluation of silymarin pluronic-lecithin organogels for treatment of atopic dermatitis” – F. M. Mady, H. Essa, T. El-Ammawi, H. Abdelkader, A. K. Hussein, 10 March 2016 [PubMed] [Archive]
  9. “Effects of Silymarin on Diabetes Mellitus Complications: A Review” – A. M. Stolf, C. C. Cardoso, A. Acco, 27 January 2017 [Wiley] [Archive]
  10. “The Therapeutic Potential of Milk Thistle in Diabetes” – C. E. Kazazis, A. A. Evangelopoulos, A. Kollas, N. G. Vallianou, 10 August 2014 [PubMed] [Archive]
  11. “Multitargeted therapy of cancer by silymarin” – K. Ramasamy, R. Agarwal, 9 May 2008 [PubMed] [Archive]
  12. “Protective effect of silymarin on tacrolimus-induced kidney and liver toxicity” – F. Terzi, M. K. Ciftci, 13 December 2022 [BCM] [Archive]
  13. “A Comprehensive Review of the Cardiovascular Protective Properties of Silibinin/Silymarin: A New Kid on the Block” – N. P. E. Kadoglou, C. Panayiotou, M. Vardas, N. Balaskas, N. G. Kostomitsopoulos, A. K. Tsaroucha, G. Valsami, 15 May 2022 [PubMed] [Archive]
  14. “Milk thistle: early seeds of potential” – A. B. Siegel, J. Stebbing, 30 July 2014 [PubMed] [Archive]
  15. “What are the benefits of milk thistle?” – F. Aremu, L. Burgess, 17 December 20210 [Medical News Today] [Archive]
  16. “Immunostimulatory effect of Silybum Marianum (milk thistle) extract” – C. Wilasrusmee, S. Kittur, G. Shah, J. Siddiqui, D. Bruch, S. Wilasrusmee, D. S. Kittur, November 2002 [PubMed] [Archive]

About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

Leave a Comment