Istod bitter

Source – Polygalaceae.

Popular names: bitter thrush, ascension flower, milky, snake flower, pilgrimage flower.

Parts Used: Whole flowering plant (with roots).

Pharmacy name: bitter herb with roots – Polygalae amarae herba cum radice (formerly: Herba Polygalae amarae cum radicibus).

Botanical description. This perennial plant develops from a multi-headed root several unbranched erect stems up to 20 cm in height. The leaves form a fairly conspicuous basal rosette and are alternately placed on the stem, becoming smaller as they move towards its top. Flowers with small covering leaves are collected in terminal racemes. The ovoid petals reach a length of 5-7 mm. The anterior petal is equipped with a four-lobed appendage, the lateral, pterygoid shape, have dark veins on the outside. The flowers are traditionally blue, rarely reddish, sometimes white. Blooms from May to August. Istod prefers wet places in light forests, along roadsides and borders, but is also found in dry meadows, pastures and slopes.

Collection and preparation. Flowering plants are collected, the roots are cleaned from the ground and dried in a ventilated place in the shade or in the sun.

Active ingredients: saponins, bitterness, essential oil, tannins. Healing action and application. Although the composition of bitter istod is similar to the composition of the North American senegi istod, it is used by scientific medicine much less – only a few tea blends, juice and products with extracts from cough istod. More often this medicinal plant is found in the so-called blood-purifying teas, which is apparently based on its diuretic effect. Previously, istod was also used to stimulate milk secretion in breastfeeding women. However, this action is highly unreliable.

Use in homeopathy. A homeopathic remedy made from the fresh plant, called Polygala amara, is used for coughs, especially in the elderly who find it difficult to expectorate tenacious mucus. It is also sometimes used to relieve coughing fits in whooping cough along with Avena sativa (oat homeopathic remedy) and Valeriana (valerian homeopathic remedy). However, the homeopathic remedy Senega, derived from the roots of the North American senega source (Polygala senega L.), deserves more attention.

Application in folk medicine. In folk medicine, istod is known as a good blood purifier, a proven remedy for coughs, asthma, diseases of the lungs, stomach and loss of appetite. Since it activates the metabolism in general, it is also used for dropsy, kidney disease, rheumatism and gout.

  • Istod tea: 2 teaspoons with the top of chopped herb with the root are poured into 1/4 liter of cold water, heated to a boil and filtered after a minute. If necessary, or 2-3 times every day, drink a cup of tea (sweeten with honey when coughing) – slowly and in small sips.

Istod tea is given to stimulate milk secretion in breastfeeding mothers. More P.A. Mattiolus, among other things, wrote: “The wine-soaked flowers (istoda) increase the separation of milk in the nursing mother.” Pounded grass istoda has long been used for compresses on abscesses, skin rashes and wounds. It is believed that the source contains substances that act antimycotically (against fungal diseases), in addition, it probably has an antibacterial effect. Side effects are to be feared only when this plant is used in too large quantities, since all products containing saponin irritate the stomach, intestines and kidneys in overdose.

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