Also known as wild celery, this medicinal herb was a favorite for Colonists to the Americas from Britain. Used for thousands of years by medical practitioners on both sides of the pond, this herb has been advertised as, essentially, a cure all. Current scientific studies have not supported such wide ranging uses. However, there are studies to support use in inflammation, as a digestive aid, gas reliever and a mucolytic (thins mucus).
The roots, leaves and seeds can all be used for medicinal purposes. An infusion, decoction or tincture can be used. American colonists frequently added the herb to flavor jams, rhubarb or cherry pies. Today, it is seldom used in cooking but the medicinal uses continue. The way it is prepared in largely up to personal preference. It should be noted, however, that the root is the source of the anti-inflammatory properties and must be dried thoroughly or it can be poisonous. It should also be noted that the herb is easy to confuse with water hemlock which can be fatal. If you are not sure what you are foraging, seek the advice of a local expert.
As with most herbs used at a medicinal dose, this herb can have side effects. While there is no current data supporting its use to cause abortion, it was used for this for thousands of years. Therefore, never give to a pregnant woman. In fact, some sources continue to recommend its use as an aid to placental passing. Beyond this, the plant is known to contain a photosensitizing agent and may cause an increase in clotting factors. So, it would be a good idea to avoid its use in those with known coronary artery disease or risk factors for such and to avoid prolonged use along with prolonged sun exposure.
This is the first in a planned installment of several potentially useful herb medicine formulas. I plan to continue to modify the format of the posts until I feel that all pertinent data is being shared. If you have suggestions on how I might formulate the posts to be of better use to you, please let me know in the comments section. I am including my references that I will be using below should you desire more information. Finally, seek out the advice of your medical provider prior to trying any of these remedies on your own. Such posts cannot be considered medical advice and you and your practitioner are best able to decide what may be beneficial or harmful to you given all your health conditions and medications.
- The Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman
- Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chavallier
- Mother Nature’s Herbal by Judith Griffin
- The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism by Malcolm Stuart
- The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green