Girchak pepper – mountaineer pepper

Bittersweet pepper (Polygonum hydropiper, synonym — Persicaria hydropiper); water pepper, dog pepper; the Grechkovy family (Rolugopasseaye); mountain pepper


Bitter pepper, or water pepper, is not a very showy, but extremely useful plant. It was called pepper for its sharp, burning taste.

It is a herbaceous annual with a branched stem 10-70 cm tall. The leaves are lanceolate, smooth, sharp, the lower ones have short petioles, the upper ones are sessile. The flowers are pink, sometimes greenish, collected in sparse intermittent spikes. They bloom from July to September. The fruit is a three-sided nut. Pepper bitters grows on the banks of fresh water bodies, wet meadows, ditches, roads, overgrown swamps. In the European part of Russia, it is widespread, up to 65° north latitude. It is found in the Caucasus, in the southern part of Siberia and in the Far East, in Ukraine (all over the territory, except for the Polynya Steppe and the Crimea). Spicy, medicinal and dyeing plant.

For medicinal purposes, the aerial part is harvested at the beginning of flowering, cutting it at a height of 10-15 cm from the ground. Roots are also used. They are usually dried outdoors under shelter, in attics or in dryers at a temperature of 40-50 °C. The storage period is 2 years. Raw materials are sold in specialized pharmacies.

The aerial part of the plant contains flavonoids, tannins, anthraglycosides, vitamins (ascorbic acid – in fresh leaves – up to 200 mg%, K – 0.78 mg%), organic

acids, phytosterol, amines, mucus, bitterness, essential oil, micro- and macroelements. The roots contain anthraglycosides, tannins and flavonoids.

Medicinal properties of pepper mustard have been noticed since ancient times: it was used as a fixing agent, for bleeding, malaria, diseases of the urinary bladder, dropsy. Paracelsus pointed to the external irritant, mustard-like, and analgesic effect of the plant. Ancient healers used bitter pepper as an anticancer agent.

In scientific medicine, plant products are used in the form of liquid extract, infusion, sum of flavone substances. The extract is part of the anti-hemorrhoidal candles “Anestezol”. Preparations of pepper mustard are mainly prescribed as a hemostatic agent for bleeding of various origins, in particular, uterine, hyperpolymenorrhea (excessive menstruation), as well as hemorrhoids. Hemostatic properties are combined with the ability to increase uterine contractions. This effect is similar to the action of the products of the uterine horn, but it is much weaker in pepper mustard, but the plant has well-defined pain-relieving properties.

In folk medicine, pepper mustard products are recommended for the treatment of dysentery, diarrhea, flatulence, gastrointestinal colic, urolithiasis, spleen diseases, gonorrhea, epilepsy, hysteria, eczema, articular rheumatism, tuberculosis and other lung diseases. Preparations of the roots are used for low acidity, bronchitis, laryngitis, and also as a means that stimulates male sexual function. Freshly crushed leaves are applied to wounds to relieve pain and accelerate healing.

In veterinary medicine, wounds and purulent ulcers in animals are treated in this way.

Young stems and leaves are used to prepare spicy, spicy salads, add them to soups and soups. The leaves can be dried in reserve for eating in the winter.

The aqueous extract of pepper mustard herb when evaporated gives a yellow dye for dyeing cotton fabrics, and with the use of mordants the fabrics are dyed in golden, steel and protective (khaki) colors.

Pepper mustard extract liquid (pharmacy product). Take 30-40 drops 3-4 times a day.

Herbal infusion. 2 tablespoons of raw material per 200 ml of boiling water. Heat in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, cool, strain, bring to the original volume with warm boiled water. Take 1/3 cup 3 times a day.

Herbal tincture. Raw materials in a ratio of 1:4 are infused in 40% alcohol (vodka) for 3-4 days, filtered. Take 30-40 drops 3-4 times a day.

Fresh plant juice (external). Fresh grass is crushed, juice is squeezed out. For lubricating ulcers.

Decoction of grass (external). 50 g of raw material per 400 ml of boiling water. Boil for 5-10 minutes, filter. For washing the affected areas of the skin in case of eczema.

Herbal infusion (external). A full handful of dry or fresh grass is boiled for 15 minutes. in 2 liters of boiling water, infuse for 20 minutes, filter. For sitz baths lasting 15 min. with hemorrhoids.

All pepper mustard products are contraindicated in glomerulonephritis and pregnancy.

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