It called thistle to plant annual rate characterized by having large leaves and thorns. Thistles (a term that comes from the Latin word cardus) are part of the group of compound or asteraceae plants, whose flowers appear as compound inflorescences surrounded by bracts.
Since it is a concept of colloquial language, however, plants of different genres and families are known as thistle. The Cylindropuntia rosea, for example, called thistle. This plant is found in deserts of Mexico and the United States.
The species Carduncellus monspelliensium, Carthamus lanatus, and Cirsium echinatum, among many others, are also called thistles. That is why it is important to bear in mind that talking about thistles is referring to many different plants, with characteristics in common but also with multiple differences.
According to DigoPaul, there are edible thistles, such as Cynara cardunculus. The roots, stems and flowers of this thistle can be prepared in different ways. It is a food rich in water, with a low amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
In the same way as artichokes, thistle is a very beneficial food for our health, especially to take care of the gallbladder and liver. Both are highly rich in cynarin, a cholerectic component, meaning that its properties promote the production of bile, ideal for improving digestion and avoiding a series of problems that derive from poor digestion, such as intestinal acidity, heaviness and the gases.
Another of the medicinal properties of thistle is that it reduces the risk of fluid retention. Thanks to its acids (especially caffeic, ascorbic and chlorogenic), cynarin and calcium, this food makes the body feel the need to urinate. These components are very useful in situations and conditions such as obesity, rheumatism, kidney stones, high blood pressure, disorders typical of premenstrual syndrome and excess uric acid.
For weight loss, thistle also has benefits worth noting, as already mentioned slightly above. In addition to promoting digestion and diuresis, its calorie content is very low, approximately half that of artichokes, which is combined with its high percentage of water and potassium to give an ideal formula against abnormal weight gain.
On the other hand, many specialists recommend this food to complement the treatment against diabetes. And is that thistle has a polysaccharide called inulin that helps to lower the level of sugar in the blood. Other plants of the compound family also have this component; three examples are garlic, onion and chicory, and they are used for the production of fructose.
As if all this were not enough, inulin also promotes the absorption of calcium and helps reduce the level of cholesterol, which makes it ideal for the prevention of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, as well as increasing the intestinal transit and prevent constipation. Also, this component of edible thistle has bifidogenic properties, that is, it stimulates the increase of bacteria that benefit the intestine.
At the time of the Roman Empire, a thistle was a street that ran from north to south. The Cardō Maximus was the most important thistle of a colony or a camp, which crossed with another street of great relevance: the Decumanus Maximus.
Also in Roman times, there was a divinity known as Cardo, Cardinea or Cardea. According to mythology, Cardo was a goddess linked to health and the wind.