The Man who Tried to Eat Canada Thistle

| July 11, 2010 | 9 Comments

Randy Does It Again

randy holding mouth small

I have had various experiences with the wild plants in my yard and garden. Some of them are pleasant experiences, and some of them are not.  This story falls into the second category.

During our recent set of interviews with Health Tribe Forum, Diana was talking with Stephen Buhner, a world plant expert. He explained that THISTLES are actually quite good for your health. He also explained in the same breath, that Chickweed (or Lamb’s Quarters) is just wild spinach. 

It happens that Chickweed and Canada thistle are some of the healthiest plants in my garden.  I like eating chick weed so was very interested in the thistle idea. I was intensely curious whether you could actually take away the prickles. I couldn’t imagine how this could happen.  Visions of millions of happy Canadians feasting on enormous salad bowls of this prickly plant filled my mind. I wanted to ask about Canada Thistle in particular but didn’t want to interrupt. Perhaps I should have.

I had also heard that you can either cook or blend thistles.  Blending is easier so that is what I tried. I pulled out several young plants (because that is what you are supposed to do) and just threw them in water and blended.

Amazing – the prickles were gone.  I could not feel them with my fingers in the blender or the few cautious drops in my mouth.

But the SMELL! It started drifting up even when I first started blending and got even stronger as I went along. Imagine blending up someone else’s smelly socks knowing you were going to eat the mixture! How does your body feel as you imagine this?  This is how my body feels several hours after I tried this.

bad smell food

The taste was not AS bad. It didn’t have a lot of taste to begin with but the aftertaste closely resembles the smell. BAD!  I did not throw up but was well on my way!

OK so I’ve learned I can’t eat Canada thistle like this.  But what was Stephen talking about? I will certainly ask him and do some research but perhaps you, as a member of the Health Tribe Forum or Real Food for Life, can help me?  Please leave your comments below. (You can even comment on how dumb I have been.)

This is what the Health Tribe Forum is all about – combining our own direct experience and inner intelligence with the knowledge gleaned by mankind over the ages and combining it with modern scientific understanding.

Questions that come up in my mind:

  • Does my reaction mean Canada thistle is not good for me, ever?
  • Would cooking or blending with something else balance this effect?  Maybe if the thistles were fried in butter and onions and a dash of salt!
  • Is there some particular compound in Canada thistle which causes this kind of reaction?

What do you think?

About Randy Fritz

A certified Nutritional Consultant, Randy has been teaching health and personal development principles for over 30 years and has personally helped individuals with over 10,000 Body Health Assessments.



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Category: Health Tips

Comments (9)

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  1. Annie Sylvan says:

    I have read many references to Milk Thistle preparations like tablets and capsules in health publications, but not Canada Thistle.  Could be that there is a big difference.
    Good for you for experimenting! Sorry to hear of the results :~)

  2. Randy says:

    Thanks Annie for the input!

  3. Gwen says:

    I too am very curious about this. I have been weeding these out of my garden perpetually all spring and early summer. I found a website that states to cook them first:

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I may soon.


  4. Ross says:

    Hi, I juice my thistles and find the juice about on par with wheat grass juice taste wise. The yield is better. My body LOVES the juice!!

  5. Janice says:

    Spear Thistle
    Cirsium vulgare
    Take care here because the flowering heads are the bit you want to pick! Take a purple flowering head, pull it open carefully removing all the downy material. At the base right down in the middle is the fleshy part that you can eat, it’s a bit like the principle of the globe artichoke, you can eat it raw or steam it gently, though nutritionally it is probably superior raw.

  6. Randy Fritz says:

    Thanks Janice. I will try that!

  7. Randy Fritz says:

    Hi Ross. I agree – its almost like drinking wheat grass. I think I basically ate my thistle TOO STRONG or too much. With wheat grass you quickly drink one or two ounces. I was drinking 16 ounces of the thistle. Thanks

  8. joel says:

    chicweed is not lambs quarters. lambs quarters is an erect plant that may grow to 4 feet, chicweed is sprawling plant. both are edible and delicious.

    i have not yet found a good way to cook canada thistle. when it is very young (infantile, maybe 2 inches high) you can eat it raw in a salad, its not that bad that way. i have tried sauteing the flower buds before they bloom with no success in taste.

    however, there are many types of thistles out there, and i believe that the whole sonchus genus is edible, not sure about cirsium though.

    i liked the comment about eating it like an artichoke. i had given up on the plant, but i will try it again. also, when steaming things like cirsium, just drink the water as a tonic tea, no loss of nutrition.

    thank you

  9. Randy Fritz says:

    Thanks for the info, particularly about the chcikweed!

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