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Herbs & Plants

Inula helenium

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Botanical Name : Inula helenium
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Inuleae
Genus: Inula
Species: I. helenium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Aster helenium. Aster officinalis. Corvisartia helenium. Helenium grandiflorum. Elfdock; Aunee (French); Enula campana (Spanish); Echter Alant (German); Enula campana (Italian)

Common Names: Elecampane , Wild sunflower, Yellow Starwort, Horse-heal or Marchalan

Habitat :Inula helenium grows throughout central and Southern Europe, and in Asia as far eastwards as the Himalayas. It is naturalized in North America. It grows in fields, waysides, waste places, copses etc, often on moist soils in shade.

Description:
Inula helenium is a perennial and rather rigid herb, the stem of which attains a height of from 90 cm to 150 cm (3 to 5 feet); the leaves are large and toothed, the lower ones stalked, the rest embracing the stem; the flowers are yellow, 5 cm (2 inches) broad, and have many rays, each three-notched at the extremity. The root is thick, branching and mucilaginous, and has a warm, bitter taste and a camphoraceous odor with sweet floral (similar to violet) undertones.
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It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation:        
An easily grown plant, it grows well in moist shady positions in ordinary garden soil, though it grows best in a good loamy soil. Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil in a sunny position. Plants are also tolerant of considerable neglect, succeeding on our Cornwall trial ground even when left unweeded for four years. Elecampane has a long history of cultivation as a medicinal herb, though it is not commonly grown nowadays. When first dug up, the roots smell like ripe bananas, but as they dry they take on the scent of violets.

Propagation:        
Seed – sow in spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, it could be worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring. Division in spring or autumn. Fairly small pieces of root can be used, so long as each piece has a growth bud on it. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Root cuttings in winter. Cut sections of root about 5cm long, place them in a warm greenhouse over the winter and they should grow away vigorously

Edible Uses:
Leaves – cooked. Rather bitter and aromatic, they were used as a potherb by the ancient Romans but are rarely used at present. Root – candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. It contains up to 44% inulin. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by humans. It usually passes straight through the digestive system, though it can ferment and cause wind problems for some people. Inulin can be converted into a sugar that is suitable for diabetics to eat. The Council of Europe list Inula helenium as a natural food flavouring.

Medicinal Uses:
Alterative;  Anthelmintic;  Antiseptic;  Antitussive;  Astringent;  Bitter;  Cholagogue;  Demulcent;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Stimulant;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Elecampane has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. A gently warming and tonic herb, it is especially effective in treating coughs, consumption, bronchitis and many other complaints of the chest as well as disorders of the digestive system. A very safe herb to use, it is suitable for the old and the young and especially useful when the patient is debilitated. It cleanses toxins from the body, stimulating the immune and digestive systems and treating bacterial and fungal infections. The root is alterative, anthelmintic, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, mildly expectorant, gently stimulant, stomachic, tonic. It is best harvested in the autumn from plants that are two years old, and it can be dried for later use. The roots should be at least 3 years old according to another report. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. An extract of the plant is a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, particularly effective against the organism that causes TB. The root contains alantolactone, which is strongly anthelmintic. In a 1:1000 dilution it kills the parasitic worm Ascaris in 16 hours. Alantolactone has an anti-inflammatory action, it also reduces mucous secretions and stimulates the immune system. The plant is sometimes recommended as an external wash for skin inflammations and varicose ulcers, but has been known to cause allergic reactions

For medicinal purposes, the roots should be procured from plants not more than two or three years old. Besides inulin (C6H12O6[C6H10O5]n), a body isomeric with starch, the root contains helenin (C15H20O2), a stearoptene, which may be prepared in white acicular crystals, insoluble in water, but freely soluble in alcohol. When freed from the accompanying inula-camphor by repeated crystallization from alcohol, helenin melts at 110 °C.

Recent science:
Susan O’Shea, a research student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), Ireland, has shown that extracts from the herb kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as well as a broad spectrum of other bacteria.

Other Uses  
Dye;  Essential.

A blue dye is obtained from the bruised and macerated root mixed with ashes and whortleberries (Vaccinium myrtillus)[4, 46, 61]. The root yields up to 2% of a camphor-scented essential oil, this is used as a flavouring and medicinally.

In France and Switzerland it is used in the manufacture of absinthe.

Known Hazards: This herb may have  allergic reactions. Potential to interfere with the treatment of diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Avoid if history of allergy

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

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Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elecampane
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Inula+helenium
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail146.php

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Herbs & Plants

Lovage

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Botanical Name: Levisticum officinale (KOCH.)
Family: Apiaceae
Tribe:     Apieae
Genus:     Levisticum
Species: L. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Apiales

Synonyms: Ligusticum Levisticum (Linn.). Old English Lovage. Italian Lovage. Cornish Lovage. In Germany and Holland, one of the common names of Lovage is Maggikraut (German) or Maggiplant (Dutch) because the plant’s taste is reminiscent of Maggi soup seasoning. In Romania the common name of Lovage is LeuÅŸtean.

Parts Used:
Root, leaves, seeds, young stems.
Habitat: It is not considered to be indigenous to Great Britain, and when occasionally found growing apparently wild, it is probably a garden escape. It is a native of the Mediterranean region, growing wild in the mountainous districts of the south of France, in northern Greece and in the Balkans.

The Garden Lovage is one of the old English herbs that was formerly very generally cultivated, and is still occasionally cultivated as a sweet herb, and for the use in herbal medicine of its root, and to a less degree, the leaves and seeds.
It is a true perennial and hence is very easy to keep in garden cultivation; it can be propagated by offsets like Rhubarb, and it is very hardy. Its old-time repute has suffered by the substitution of the medicinally more powerful Milfoil and Tansy, just as was the case when ‘Elecampane‘ superseded Angelica in medical use. The public-house cordial named ‘Lovage,’ formerly much in vogue, however, owed such virtue as it may have possessed to Tansy. Freshly-gathered leafstalks of Lovage (for flavouring purposes) should be employed in long split lengths.

Description: Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 1.8–2.5 m tall, with a basal rosette of leaves and stems with further leaves, the flowers being produced in umbels at the top of the stems. The stems and leaves are shiny glabrous green to yellow-green and smell of lime when crushed. The larger basal leaves are up to 70 cm long, tripinnate, with broad triangular to rhomboidal, acutely pointed leaflets with a few marginal teeth; the stem leaves are smaller, and less divided with few leaflets. The flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in globose umbels up to 10–15 cm diameter; flowering is in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long, mature in autumn.

The large, dark green radical leaves, on erect stalks, are divided into narrow wedge-like segments, and are not unlike those of a coarse-growing celery; their surface is shining, and when bruised they give out an aromatic odour, somewhat reminiscent both of Angelica and Celery. The stems divide towards the top to form opposite whorled branches, which in June and July bear umbels of yellow flowers, similar to those of Fennel or Parsnip, followed by small, extremely aromatic fruits, yellowish-brown in colour, elliptical in shape and curved, with three prominent winged ribs. The odour of the whole plant is very strong. Its taste is warm and aromatic, and it abounds with a yellowish, gummy, resinous juice.

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It is sometimes grown in gardens for its ornamental foliage, as well as for its pleasant odour, but it is not a striking enough plant to have claimed the attention of poets and painters, and no myths or legends are connected with it. The name of the genus, Ligusticum, is said to be derived from Liguria, where this species abounds.

Cultivation: Lovage is of easy culture. Propagation is by division of roots or by seeds. Rich moist, but well-drained soil is required and a sunny situation. In late summer, when the seed ripens, it should be sown and the seedlings transplanted, either in the autumn or as early in spring as possible, to their permanent quarters, setting 12 inches apart each way. The seeds may also be sown in spring, but it is preferable to sow when just ripe. Root division is performed in early spring.

The plants should last for several years, if the ground be kept well cultivated, and where the seeds are permitted to scatter the plants will come up without care.

Constituents: Lovage contains a volatile oil, angelic acid, a bitter extractive, resins, etc. The colouring principle has been isolated by M. Niklis, who gives it the name of Ligulin, and suggests an important application of it that may be made in testing drinking water. If a drop of its alcoholic or aqueous solution is allowed to fall into distilled water, it imparts to the liquid its own fine crimson-red colour, which undergoes no change; but if limestone water be substituted, the red colour disappears in a few seconds and is followed by a beautiful blue, due to the alkalinity of the latter.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Formerly Lovage was used for a variety of culinary purposes, but now its use is restricted almost wholly to confectionery, the young stems being treated like those of Angelica, to which, however, it is inferior, as its stems are not so stout nor so succulent.

The leafstalks and stem bases were formerly blanched like celery, but as a vegetable it has fallen into disuse.

A herbal tea is made of the leaves, when previously dried, the decoction having a very agreeable odour.

Lovage was much used as a drug plant in the fourteenth century, its medicinal reputation probably being greatly founded on its pleasing aromatic odour. It was never an official remedy, nor were any extravagant claims made, as with Angelica, for its efficacy in numberless complaints.

The roots and fruit are aromatic and stimulant, and have diuretic and carminative action. In herbal medicine they are used in disorders of the stomach and feverish attacks, especially for cases of colic and flatulence in children, its qualities being similar to those of Angelica in expelling flatulence, exciting perspiration and opening obstructions. The leaves eaten as salad, or infused dry as a tea, used to be accounted a good emmenagogue.

An infusion of the root was recommended by old writers for gravel, jaundice and urinary troubles, and the cordial, sudorific nature of the roots and seeds caused their use to be extolled in ‘pestilential disorders.’ In the opinion of Culpepper, the working of the seeds was more powerful than that of the root; he tells us that an infusion ‘being dropped into the eyes taketh away their redness or dimness…. It is highly recommended to drink the decoction of the herb for agues…. The distilled water is good for quinsy if the mouth and throat be gargled and washed therewith…. The decoction drunk three or four times a day is effectual in pleurisy…. The leaves bruised and fried with a little hog’s lard and laid hot to any blotch or boil will quickly break it.’

Several species of this umbelliferous genus are employed as domestic medicines. The root of LIGUSTICUM SINENSE, under the name of KAO-PÂU, is largely used by the Chinese, and in the north-western United States the large, aromatic roots of LIGUSTICUM FILICINUM (OSHA COLORADO COUGH-ROOT) are used to a considerable extent as stimulating expectorants.

The old-fashioned cordial, ‘Lovage,’ now not much in vogue, though still occasionally to be found in public-houses, is brewed not only from the Garden Lovage, Ligusticum levisticum, but mainly from a species of Milfoil or Yarrow, Achillea ligustica, and from Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare,  and probably owes its merit more to these herbs than to Lovage itself. From its use in this cordial, Milfoil has often been mistakenly called Lovage, though it is in no way related to the Umbellifer family.

Several other plants have been termed Lovage besides the true Lovage, and this has frequently caused confusion. Thus we have the SCOTCH LOVAGE, known also as Sea Lovage, or Scotch Parsley, and botanically as Ligusticum scoticum; the BLACK LOVAGE, or Alexanders, Smyrnium Olusatrum; BASTARD LOVAGE, a species of the allied genus, Laserpitum, and WATER LOVAGE, a species of the genus Cenanthe.

Laserpitum may be distinguished from its allies by the fruit having eight prominent, wing-like appendages. The species are perennial herbs, chiefly found in south-eastern Europe. Some of them are employed as domestic remedies, on account of their aroma.

The scent of the root of MEUM ATHAMANTICUM (Jacq.), SPIGNEL (also called Spikenel or Spiknel), MEU or BALD-MONEY, has much in common with that of both Lovage and Angelica, and the root has been eaten by the Scotch Highlanders as a vegetable. It is a perennial, smooth and very aromatic herb. The elongated root is crowned with fibres, the leaves, mostly springing from the root, are divided into leaflets which are further cut into numerous thread-like segments, which gives them a feathery appearance. The stem is about 6 or 8 inches high, and bears umbels of white or purplish flowers. The aromatic flavour of the leaves is somewhat like Melilot, and is communicated to milk and butter when cows feed on the herbage in the spring. The peculiar name of this plant, ‘Baldmoney,’ is said to be a corruption of Balder, the Apollo of the northern nations, to whom the plant was dedicated.

Lovage is a plant, the leaves and “seeds” or fruit of which are used to flavor food, especially in South European cuisine. It is a tall (3 to 9 ft) perennial that vaguely resembles its cousin celery in appearance and in flavor. Lovage also sometimes gets referred to as smallage, but this is more properly used for celery.

The fruit of the lovage plant can be used as a spice, but what appears in the trade as lovage seed is usually ajwain, not lovage. On the other hand, what is sold as “celery seed” is often partially or entirely ground lovage seed.

The root of lovage, which is a heavy, volatile oil, is used as a mild aquaretic. Lovage root contains furanocoumarins which can lead to photosensitivity.Preparations made from the roots or leaves are used to treat edema, indigestion and to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Disclaimer:
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.

References:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovage42.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovage

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