Botanical Name: Aristolochia longa
Species: A. longa
Synonym: Long-rooted Birthwort.
Aristolochia is a genus of evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials. The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.
The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.
These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.
The fruit is dehiscent capsule with many endospermic seeds.
The root is spindle-shaped from 5 cm. to 3 dm. in length, about 2 cm. in thickness, fleshy, very brittle, greyish externally, brownish-yellow inside, bitter and of a strong disagreeable odour when fresh.
Part Used: The root.
Medicinal Uses: Said to be useful as an aromatic stimulant in rheumatism and gout and for removing obstructions, etc., after childbirth. Dose, 1/2 to 1 drachm of the powdered root.
Known Hazards: The International Agency for Research on Cancer. Epidemiological and laboratory studies have identified Aristolochia to be a dangerous kidney toxin; Aristolochia has been shown associated with more than 100 cases of kidney failure. Furthermore, it appears as if contamination of grain with European birthwort (A. clematitis) is a cause of Balkan nephropathy, a severe renal disease occurring in parts of southeast Europe.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.