Fumitory is a diuretic, laxative, diaphoretic and anti-spasmodic agent. The active constituents of fumitory are the flavonoid glycosides, and isoquinolones alkaloid.
Fumitory is an annual plant of somewhat variable characteristics, often resembling a bush, but also growing as a low, trailing shrub. It has gray, pointed leaves that, at a distance, give the plant a wispy appearance of smoke (hence the common name). The pink-purple flower blooms in spring. The flowering plant (aerial parts) traditionally has been used in herbal medicine. The climbing fumitory, or Allegheny vine, is a North American plant of another genus (Adlumia). Several genera of the family are native to South Africa.
Other Common Names: Common fumitory, drug fumitory, hedge fumitory, earth smoke, wax dolls, fumaria (Spanish), reykjurt (Icelandic), Gewöhnlicher Erdrauch (German), fumeterre officinal (French), jordrøyk (Norwegian), jordrök (Swedish), jordrøg (Danish), peltoemäkki (Finnish).
To make fumitory tea, simply place 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried fumitory herbs (use the above-ground flowering parts of the fumitory) in a cup of boiling water. Then let the tea soak for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Fumitory is not used to great extent in modern day herbal medicine but it still has some medicinal applications. The herb is regarded to have diaphoretic (sweat-inducing), diuretic and blood purifying properties.
Animal studies support some of the traditional use in humans and have shown that the herb may have a certain blood pressure lowering, slight diuretic, and laxative effect.
The herb is used as a tonic to increase appetite, and it is believed to stimulate the smooth muscles of the intestines and thus strengthen peristalsis. It is also used as a tea as an herbal remedy for intestinal parasites.
In addition, the herb is thought to promote the function of both the liver and the gallbladder and have an antispasmodic effect on the valve which opens and closes off the bile flow to the duodenum, thus normalizing the bile flow.
Therefore, it is sometimes used internally as a remedy for biliary colic (pain due to a gallstone temporarily blocking the bile duct) and migraine associated with digestive problems. In Germany, fumitory is approved for the treatment of biliary colic.
Fumitory has for a long time been used to treat skin ailments such as rash, chronic eczema, psoriasis, scabies and acne. These uses may be due to the alleged purifying and detoxifying effect the herb is believed to have on the kidneys and liver, but it may also be due to the content of the fumaric acid.
Traditionally, the herb has been used in combination with the leaves of walnut (Juglans regia) as an external treatment for wounds, cuts, and scrapes.
The herb is sometimes recommended as a remedy for hemorrhoids by adding the dried herb in a bath water or as an extraction in hot water as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.
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