Family: Compositae; Asteraceae
Habitat: Native to the Mediterranean region; cultivated in Algeria.
Action: Stimulant, cordial, rubefacient (reddening of the skin, used in the treatment of pain by increasing blood flow.) A gargle of infusion is prescribed for relaxed vulva. Root- used for toothache, rheumatic and neuralgic affections and
rhinitis (inflammation of mucous membrane within nose.) Roots, along with the root of Withania somnifera and Vitis vinifera, are used in epilepsy.
Description: Along with other therapeutic applications, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of the root in:
- Sciatica: Refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.
- Paralysis: Loss of muscle function in part of your body
- Hemiplegia: Paralysis on only one side of your body.
- Amenorrhoea: The absence of menstrual periods in a woman in her reproductive years.
The root contains anacycline, isobutylamide, inulin and a trace of essential oil. These constituents give the herb its rubefacient and stimulant properties. The local anaesthetic activity of the alcoholic (2%) extract of the root was found to be comparable to that of xylocaine hydrochloride (2%) in dental patients. Use of the drug in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus reduces the dose of insulin. It decreased the plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels after oral administration for 3-6 weeks. (The plant is mixed with Helleborus nigar in a ratio of 1:3.) The plant extract inhibited tobacco-induced mutagenesis by 47.5% at a concentration of 1 mg/plate.
It is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb as well as a brain tonic for the treatment of paralysis, hemiplegia, cephalalgia (headache), epilepsy, and rheumatism. It is also thought to 'purge' the body of toxins by stimulating blood flow to the brain and face, and causing increased salivation and mucus flow. Using the root extract over 28 days on rats, it was noted that testosterone levels and luteinizing hormone doubled in relation to the baseline at the start of
the experiment. The herb also has a potent libido enhancing effect, which increases an individual’s sex drive. There also appears to be increases in testicular weight and seminal parameters suggested by fertility in male rats. This is why the herb is used as a treatment for male sexual disorders and sexual weakness in addition to the other benefits.
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