This herbaceous plant is now seen as a simple herb that stands out among the magnificent flower fields. However, few will now know that the use of thistle by wool makers has its roots in ancient Egypt thanks to its countless fields of use (carding of wool, construction of fences) and to the beneficial properties of its roots and leaves. (making diuretic herbal teas, for the treatment of eczema, acne, psoriasis and many other problems that today afflict many people). To get to know the thistle better, it is primarily useful to make a brief description: it consists of a stem that can reach a meter and a half in height, it blooms between June and August; it is not an evergreen plant as, during a few months, it loses its leaves and becomes a sandy or purple or pink color.
Woolen thistle - woolen thistle">Characteristics of the woolen thistle
The collection of this herbaceous plant takes place in September and October, it belongs to the Dipsacaceae family and is also known under the names of: cloth thistle, scardaccione, woolen thistle, shepherd's top, wolf combs and rissolo. In addition to its countless medicinal properties, the woolen thistle it is widely used only as an ornamental plant. Its growth is favored by direct exposure to the sun, watering the soil (fertilized between December and February if not done in autumn) every fifteen or twenty-five days during the winter months. It is curious how the multiplication of the herbaceous plant occurs in nature: the flowers are pollinated by bees because they are attracted by their strong scent; while in autumn the seeds are the food of many goldfinches and siskin, which, by expelling the indigestible parts of the seed, starts the process of spreading this species of thistles.
Active ingredients of thistle
What makes the thistle extraordinary are the active ingredients that compose it (scabioside glucoside, potassium salts and tannic substances) capable of conferring many benefits to all those who use it. Its flower heads, or thorns, were used since ancient Egypt for carding wool, especially for the first phase of combing in order to eliminate any residues from the fabric. It was manipulated for a long time by shepherds during the transhumance period, creating fences capable of protecting their flocks from attack by any predators. Once you have framed the woolen thistle plant, it is important to preserve the roots and leaves in such a way as to avoid the formation of mold. First of all, it is necessary to know that the roots can only be collected between the months of September and October and only from those plants that are in the first year of vegetation (young plants); then it is necessary to clean them well and cut them into pieces with a length of five centimeters. The leaves, on the other hand, can be harvested only between the months of March and April, that is before the formation of the structure that will later host the florescences.
Beneficial properties of thistle
As for the beneficial properties, both the roots and the dried leaves of the woolen thistle are very important. The former, with a bitter taste, help the colors they take in digestion, stimulating diuresis, sweating and consequently leading to a general expulsion of waste that is harmful to the human body. Many people do not know that it is very useful in the treatment of diseases such as gout, rheumatism, arthritis and is a subsequent aid for those suffering from obesity and dropsy. All these benefits are also brought about by the use of the leaves, following precise recipes and certain dosages
Methods of taking the thistle of the wool makers
It is possible to benefit from the properties of woolen thistle by following two short but effective recipes prepared with both the root and the leaves. Using the roots as a basic product, about two grams of them are mixed with one hundred milliliters of water and a cup of decoction is taken every morning on an empty stomach and in very small quantities as much as a cup of coffee. This compound will promote diuresis and purify the entire human body without having to use medicines or other compounds whose composition we do not know. Finely shredding thirty or forty grams of previously dried leaves, immersing them in a liter of water and boiling them for about half an hour, it will be possible to cure diseases that afflict and stress the skin; in fact, washings or packs can be done on areas of the skin attacked by psoriasis, eczema, acne and dermatosis, precisely because it purifies both the excretory and digestive systems.
Curiosities about the woolen thistle
Finally, as regards some curiosities about the name of the woolen thistle, it is very useful to know that the name lanaioli has been attributed to this species of thistle precisely because since ancient Egypt it has been widely used for the first phases of combing fabrics. , to then end with the advent of machines in the nineteenth century; precisely for this reason the term Follonum refers to the medieval technique of fastening fabrics, better known as fullonica; the term Dipsacus instead means thirst and derives from the purely aesthetic conformation of the basin that the leaves create during the rain.
As you can see, in this short guide it was possible to rediscover one of those countless plants that adorn our Mediterranean countryside. In the same way, many of the typical knowledge of men of the past have re-emerged, who placed their health and well-being in plants present in nature; making decoctions, paying close attention to the dosages in order to relieve those pains that hindered their work: gout, arthritis and rheumatism, annoying eczema and psoriasis, an improvement in the functioning of the digestive system, a stimulation of sweating and a diuretic use of decoctions. These are some of all the benefits that can be drawn from the correct use of the woolen thistle, as in addition to having a beautiful aesthetic appearance, it has also been used for a long time in the work through the construction of fences to protect the flocks; used in the production of the typical mats of current billiard tables and widely used in the textile field (the wedge-shaped pins were used in the elimination of foreign bodies from the wool during carding).