Home Garden

How to Separate the Seeds From Milk Thistle Hairs

Milk thistle may be a spiny, unattractive plant that looks like a weed; however, its seeds have been used in Europe to treat liver diseases, upset stomachs and gallbladder issues. The active ingredient in these seeds is silymarin, which has been found to block toxic elements from entering the liver. This had made milk thistle seed one of the best selling herbs in the world. Separating the seeds from milk thistle can be difficult, especially because the tiny thorns of the purple-centered flower can prick your fingers and cling to your skin. However, there are ways that milk thistle seeds can be extracted with little pain.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Scissors
  • Basket
  • Brown paper bag
  • Sifting screen
Show More


    • 1

      Cut the seed heads from the milk thistle stalks using scissors, and gather them in a basket. For the most medicinal benefit, gather the seed heads when they are brown.

    • 2

      Let the seed heads dry out until they are brown and crunchy.

    • 3

      Place a brown paper bag outdoors on a hard surface such as a sidewalk or driveway. Weigh it down with rocks if necessary.

    • 4

      Put the crunchy seed heads on the brown paper bag, and then lightly step on them to crush the heads. Be careful not to crush the seeds. You only want to to break open the seed head and separate the debris from the seed.

    • 5

      Remove any large pieces of debris, then let the thistle dry some more. This will cause the fluffy thistle to become brittle.

    • 6

      Separate the seeds from the crushed seed heads, or chaff, using a sifting screen. The brittle thistles will break off easily when sifting.