Even though this herb sounds like a creature from Harry Potter, Bistort has been used all over the world for its promising health benefits. This herb was traditionally used to treat infectious diseases, inhibit bleeding and treat snake bites.
Today, bistort is popularly used to treat ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and other common digestive issues.
Botanical Name and Family of Bistort
The botanical name for bistort is Persicaria bistorta or Polygonum bistorta. It belongs to the Polygonaceae or Buckwheat family and has been referred to as Adderwort, Patience dock and Dragonwort
What Is Bistort?
Bistort is a flowering plant that is native to Asia and Europe. The name Bistort is derived from the root’s twisted appearance. It is a well-known herb in Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. In Europe, the leaves and roots are consumed as food. Bistort is also cultivated as an ornamental plant.
The leaves of this plant are edible and the whole plant has been cultivated for its medicinal constituents, especially its roots. As stated earlier the leaves of this plant are edible and have been used for culinary purposes, the leaves are chewy but can be eaten raw, even though some suggest them to be sauteed like spinach.
Active Ingredients Found in Bistort
Bistort contains phenolics, steroids, flavonoids, tannins and triterpenoids. In addition, the rootstock contains flavonoids, flobafen (a reddish-brown pigment), starch, calcium, sugar and proteins
Health Benefits of Bistort
Bistort is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is actually one of the most astringent herbs and in addition to having astringent properties, it also has antibacterial effects as well. Studies have also found that this herb possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic and anti-cancer effects.
Bistort has been used mainly for digestive issues like diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, cholera, gastritis, enteritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Bistort has also been used to help treat the following ailments:
- mouth and throat infection
- snake bites
- respiratory infections
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- skin disorders
- vaginal discharge
- urinary tract infections
Different Ways to Use Bistort
The roots and rhizomes are used. You can use 1-2 grams of the dried rhizomes to 1 cup of water and gargle it in your mouth to treat mouth and throat infections. But let the mixture stand and brew for about five hours before you consume it.
The dried rootstock can be used as a decoction or a powder to make a paste to treat both internal and external bleeding. The paste can also be used to help improve skin health.
Bistort is also available in tinctures. For commercial tinctures, the usual recommended dosage is 1-3 ml three times a day.
Side Effects of Bistort
Bistort is considered safe for use and no side effects have been reported, but more research still needs to be done to determine if there are any side effects. Always make sure you speak to your doctor to figure out if using bistort on a daily basis would be beneficial for you.
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Intisar A, Zhang L, Luo H, Kiazolu JB, Zhang R, Zhang W. Anticancer Constituents and Cytotoxic Activity of Methanol-Water Extract ofPolygonum Bistorta L. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013; 10(1): 53–59. PMCID: PMC3746358