Botanical Name: Asarum europaeum
Synonyms: Hazelwort. Wild Nard.
Common Name: Asarabacca
Other Common Names: Hazelwort, wild nard, false coltsfoot, snakeroot, wild ginger, hasselurt (Danish), Haselwurz (German), asaro (Spanish), asaret d’Europe (French).
Habitat: Asarabacca is endemic to the deciduous forests of Southern and Central Europe, Siberia, and the Caucasus.
The plant prefers shaded areas and moist humus-rich, calcareous soil.
The plant has become popular as an ornamental plant in many parts of the world with temperate climates, as it is an evergreen and can form a beautiful ground cover.
Found in woods and very rare.
The herbs belonging to this order are chiefly plants or shrubs of a tropical habitat, very abundant in South America; but rare elsewhere.
Asarabacca is a creeping, evergreen rhizomatous soft-wooded perennial plant that grows about 10-15 cm (4 to 6 inches) tall. The plant normally grows in open woodland and waterside thickets, especially in beech woodlands, river-bank, broad-leaved forests and stream valleys. It is a curious plant consisting of a very short fleshy stem, bearing two large, dark-green, kidney-shaped evergreen leaves, and a solitary purplish-green drooping flower.
The flowering occurs between May and June. The bell shaped flowers have three broad petals that are reddish-brown. Because the flowers are usually located under the leaves they are often difficult to detect. After flowering, the formation of a round and fleshy seed capsule follows.
Constituents–-The root and leaves are acrid and contain a volatile oil, a bitter matter, and a substance like camphor. Asarabacca was formerly used as a purgative and emetic also to promote sneezing – but it is now rarely used, having been supplanted by safer and more certain remedies.
Active Ingredient and Substances: The rootstock of the plant contains resin, starch, tannins, flavonoids, aristolochic acid and up to 4% essential oil. The essential oil contains a variety of different substances, mostly asarone (30%), methyleugenol (20%) and bornyl acetate (15%).
Medicinal Uses-–Tonic and stimulant, sometimes acrid or aromatic. The dried and powdered leaves of Asarabacca (Asarum Europaeum) are used in the preparation of cephalic snuffs, exciting sneezing and giving relief to headache and weak eyes.
Mixed with Ribwort, this herb is used to remove mucous from the respiratory passages.
Virginian Snake-root (Aristolochia serpentaria) and other allied species are used as antidotes to the bite of venomous snakes.
The juice extracted from a South American species is said to have the power of stupefying serpents if placed in their mouths; and African species are used by Egyptian jugglers for this purpose.
The British variety is said to be found wild in Westmorland and other places in the north of England.
Since the plant grows best in shaded places it is now widely used for ornamental purposes as a ground cover or vegetation in gardens and parks.
Asarabacca has also been used as a dye plant and can provide a beautiful apple green color.
If the plant is consumed it can cause burning in the mouth, heartburn, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and kidney inflammation.
It can cause bleeding in the uterus and may have an abortifacient effect. Asarabacca should never be used by pregnant or nursing women.
The essential oil is highly toxic and can cause kidney damage and respiratory system failure. It is corrosive to the mucous membranes and can irritant the skin and can cause blistering.
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.