Herbs & Plants

Polygala amara

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Botanical Name : Polygala amara
Family: Polygalaceae
Genus: Polygala
Species: Polygala amara
Order: Fabales
Common Name :Bitter Milkwort

Synonyms: P. amarella Crantz. P. austriaca. P. uliginosa.

Habitat :Europe, including Britain, south and east from Norway.  Grassland and damp mountain pastures, especially on chalk and limestone.

Polygala amara perennial herb  growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Prefers a moderately fertile moisture-retentive well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season, otherwise it is best in semi-shade. Dislikes shade according to another report.

Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring

Medicinal Uses:
Bitter;  DiaphoreticDiureticEmollientExpectorantGalactogogue.

The herb is bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, mildly expectorant, galactogogue. An infusion is used to treat stomach upsets, bladder and kidney disorders etc. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and dried for later use

The plant is used primarily as a discharging agent, the effect being attributed to the saponines as well as the galtherin and its aglycon.  Due to its bitter constituents it is used as an appetite stimulant and a stomachic.  The Greek name Polygala means “plenty of milk” and explains its use as a galactogogue. This effect is said to be caused by the saponines.  The flowering stems, sometimes with the roots, are used medicinally.  When dry they have a distinctive bitter taste (the specific epithet amara means bitter).  It is used in the form of a decoction or powder to treat coughs, bronchitis and other infections of the upper respiratory tract, and digestive disorders.  It is also included in proprietary expectorant medicines. In folk medicine it is still recommended for nursing mothers but it has not been established whether the plant really is a galactagogue.  An infusion is used to treat stomach upsets, bladder and kidney disorders etc.

Known Hazards:Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus is said to be poisonous in large quantities.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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