Botanical Name: Fumaria officinalis
Synonyms: Earth Smoke. Beggary. Fumus. Vapor. Nidor. Fumus Terrae. Fumiterry, Scheiteregi. Taubenkropp. Kaphnos. Wax Dolls.
Habitat: Fumaria officinalis occurs in Europe and America. Parts of Asia, Australia and South Africa. It grows on arable land and as a weed in gardens, usually on lighter soils. It is also found growing on old walls.
Fumaria officinalis is an herbaceous annual plant, which grows weakly erect and scrambling, with stalks about 10 to 50 cm long. Its pink 7 to 9 mm flowers appear from April to October in the northern hemis phere. They are two lipped and spurred, with sepals running a quarter the length of the petals. The fruit is an achene. It contains alkaloids, potassium salts, and tannins. It is also a major source of fumaric acid….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Prefers a light well-drained soil in a sunny position. This plant can be a common weed in some gardens, self-sowing freely, though it is fairly easy to control by hand weeding[K]. The flowers are seldom visited by insects, but they are self-fertile and usually set every seed.
Seed – sow spring in situ. There is normally very little need to sow this seed, the plant normally self-sows freely and should manage quite nicely by itself.
Part Used in medicines: The Herb.
The plant contains isoquinoline alkaloids protopine and allocryptopine. Both protopine and allocryptopine increased CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 mRNA levels in human hepatocyte cells. The use of products containing protopine and/or allocryptopine may be considered safe in terms of possible induction of CYP1A enzymes.
The leaves yield by expression a juice which has medicinal properties. An extract, prepared by evaporating the expressed juice, or a decoction of the leaves, throws out upon its surface a copious saline efflorescence. Fumaric acid was early identified as present, and its isomerism with maleic acid was established later. The alkaloid Fumarine has been believed to be identical with corydaline, but it differs both in formula and in its reaction to sulphuric and nitric acids. It occurs in colourless, tasteless crystals, freely soluble in chloroform, less so in benzine, still less so in alcohol and ether, sparingly soluble in water.
Edible Uses: ……Curdling agent.
The fresh or dried herb can be added to sour plant milks. A few sprays are added to each litre of liquid and left until the liquid has soured thickly. The sprays are then removed. It gives a tangy taste to the milk, acts as a preservative and prevents the rancid taste that can accompany soured milk.
A weak tonic, slightly diaphoretic, diuretic, and aperient; valuable in all visceral obstructions, particularly those of the liver, in scorbutic affections, and in troublesome eruptive diseases, even those of the leprous order. A decoction makes a curative lotion for milk-crust on the scalp of an infant. Physicians and writers from Dioscorides to Chaucer, and from the fourteenth century to Cullen and to modern times value its purifying power. The Japanese make a tonic from it. Cows and sheep eat it, and the latter are said to derive great benefit from it. The leaves, in decoction or extract, may be used in almost any doses. The inspissated juice has also been employed, also a syrup, powder, cataplasm, distilled water, and several tinctures.
French and German physicians still preferit to most other medicines as a purifier of the blood; while sometimes the dried leaves are smoked in the manner of tobacco, for disorders of the head. Dr. Cullen, among its good effects in cutaneous disorders, mentions the following:
‘There is a disorder of the skin, which, though not attended with any alarming symptoms of danger to the life of the patient, is thought to place the empire of beauty in great jeopardy; the complaint is frequently brought on by neglecting to use a parasol, and may be known by sandy spots, vulgarly known as freckles, scattered over the face. Now, be it known to all whom it may concern, that the infusion of the leaves of the abovedescribed plant is said to be an excellent specific for removing these freckles and clearing the skin; and ought, we think, to be chiefly employed by those who have previously removed those moral blemishes which deform the mind, or degrade the dignity of a reasonable and an immortal being.’
The herb has a stimulant action on the liver and gallbladder and is chiefly used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and exanthema. Its action is probably due to a general cleansing mediated via the kidneys and liver. It is also diuretic and mildly laxative. Taken over a long period, it helps to cure depression. Also used internally for biliary colic and migraine with digestive disturbances. Externally used for conjunctivitis.
Dye & Baby care;
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A decoction makes a curative lotion for ‘milk-crust’ on the scalps of babies.
Caution: It was traditionally thought to be good for the eyes, and to remove skin blemishes. In modern times herbalists use it to treat skin diseases, and conjunctivitis; as well as to cleanse the kidneys. However, Howard (1987) warns that fumitory is poisonous and should only be used “under the direction of a medical herbalist.
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.