Young flower stems - cooked and used as a vegetable. Young leaves can be soaked overnight in salt water and then cooked and eaten. Another report says that they can be used in salads. The taste is rather bland but the prickles need to be removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten - not only is this a rather fiddly operation but very little edible matter remains[K]. Flower buds - cooked. Used like globe artichokes, but smaller and even more fiddly. The dried flowers are a rennet substitute for curdling plant milks.Seed - occasionally eaten roasted.
The seed of all species of thistles yields a good oil by expression. No details of potential yields etc are given[K].The down makes an excellent tinder that is easily lit by a spark from a flint.
A hot infusion of the whole plant has been used as a herbal steam for treating rheumatic joints.A decoction of the whole plant has been used both internally and externally to treat bleeding piles.
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