Medicinal plants

Woolen thistle

The woolen thistle: origins and characteristics

The woolen thistle, also known by different names such as scardaccione, cloth thistle, wolf combs and lettuce is a very resistant herbaceous plant and especially widespread in the Mediterranean area up to a thousand meters above sea level, it grows everywhere and can reach high heights , almost up to two meters. Its flowers, very particular, have an ovoid shape and are characterized by numerous small purple flowers while the plant robust roots, has an erect stem with numerous soft thorns and also the leaves arranged in a rosette, have thorns both on the upper and lower part . Harvesting takes place in the autumn, in September and October. Due to its characteristics this species has been used a lot in the past, since the ancient Egyptians,

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The woolen thistle has properties that make it widely used as a natural remedy to counteract skin cracking and has sweat, diuretic and purifying properties. Among the active ingredients of this plant we find potassium salts, tannins and scabioside glucoside. In herbal medicine, both the roots, which are collected from young plants in the autumn period, and the leaves, collected from March to April, ie before the formation of florescence, are used. Once the roots and leaves have been collected, they must be dried in the shade, taking great care to avoid the formation of mold. Subsequently the roots are kept in glass containers while the leaves in paper or canvas bags. Both the leaves and the roots with a rather bitter taste, stimulate diuresis and digestion and, through sweating, they help eliminate waste from the body. They are also very useful in case of diseases such as gout, rheumatism and in case of obesity.

Preparation of natural remedies with thistle of lanaioli


Using the roots of the woolen thistle, a decoction can be obtained by placing about 2 grams of product in one hundred milliters of water and drinking a cup in the morning on an empty stomach. It will help purify the body by promoting diuresis and eliminating waste. With the leaves it is possible to obtain an infusion for internal use by leaving 2 grams of it to infuse for a few minutes in a cup of water and drinking the filtered liquid in the morning on an empty stomach, as for the roots, or a decoction for external use. In this case, 30 grams of chopped leaves are boiled in a liter of water for thirty minutes using the liquid obtained for external washes or compresses directly on the affected areas, treating psoriasis, skin diseases, eczema and boils, dermatosis in general, exploiting the purifying properties of the plant.

Cardo dei lanaioli: The cardoon of the lanaioli: curiosity


Due to its use over the centuries, for the processing and combing of wool and fabrics, today there is a cultivated variety of woolen thistle specific for this purpose, the result of a selection of plants that had denser and more robust flower heads, which are better suited lent to this use. This type of crop had spread in Tuscany in the period of greatest diffusion of the woolen thistle for wool processing, in the 50s and 60s of the last century, before the decline or mainly due to the cost of labor. However, it is still used today to brush and make fine fabrics hairy, giving a shiny and soft effect. The natural product, whose harvest is done by hand, is preferred to synthetic ones for the best, finer processing and destined for fine garments.

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