Botanical Name: Lomatium dissectum
This herb is considered a highly effective antimicrobial with a variety of uses. The key is proper identification so as not to confuse it with other similar plants of the same family or the very poisonous hemlock parsley, which is a similar looking plant in the same family of plants. Some species are edible, this variety is famous for treating a wide variety of lung infections including pneumonia and influenza.
Below is an overview of Lomatium, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Lomatium.
Western Name: Lomatium
Also Known As: Biscuit Root, Indian Carrot
Organs/Systems: Lung, Throat, Sinus, Immunity
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antibacterial, Antiviral, Tonic to mucous membrane, Anti-sepetic. Significant Diaphoretic and some Diuretic ability. Both a Stimulating and Sedating Expectorant.
Pin Yin: Lomatium
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lung, Spleen
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat and Dampness/Tonifies the Lung/ Sedates Cough/Soothes the Lung: colds, flu, promotes sweating, soothes throat and eases cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, stuffy nose. Clears Skin: for hot skin rashes, cuts, and sores.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root
Flavors/Temps: Slight Sweet, Slightly Cooling, Neutral
Caution: Some plants in the Apiaceae family are poisonous. Be sure about identification.
History/Folklore: Lomatium dissectum is the species most used for its medicinal properties. None of the other species of lomatiums are as universally considered a medicinal herb as is the varietal. It is quickly becoming extinct in the wild due to wildfires, grazing and over harvesting. The species L. cous, L, geyeri, L. macrocarpum are often called “Biscuit Root” as they have starchy edible roots long used by Native American Indians as a food.
Lomatium typically grows in dry, rocky, often steep habitats, while the other similar hybrids and hemlock parsley prefer moist, deep soils in order to survive. So if the plant is growing in moist soil leave it alone as it is likely highly poisonous! If the soil is dry and void of most organic soil qualities then it is more likely to be Lomatium.
Four year old plants can have roots that are up to 1 foot long and are still a long way from being harvestable for the preferred roots that will grow to be as large as 3-6 inches around and up to 2 feet long. Older roots can frequently weigh up to 2-6 lbs. Lomatium is considered a rare species of the parsley family.
The plant’s large taproot and kinship with the common carrot gave it its name of “Indian carrot.” It is gathered in the late Fall, with November especially considered to be the proper month for harvesting.
A pound of the root is considered to be a proper dose for treating a case of fever for three days, such as is common with influenza or in cases of pulmonary disease.
In large doses it is a laxative, in extreme does it is emetic. It is both a stimulating and a sedating expectorant, so it can be used for either purpose.
Lomatium can be used externally as wash for smallpox, skin rashes and cuts and sores.
Traditional Native Americans used the starchy edible root as a dietary staple. It was eaten cooked, dried or ground into flour for cakes that could be stored and eaten later. It was used so successfully as a medicine by the Washoe Indians during the influenza epidemic that hit their area in 1918 that it became noticed by the western medical community. Unlike other patients receiving other kinds of treatments, the Native American Indians using lomatium recovered from the influenza while others did not. The plant was one of the most important herbs for the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest.
It is said to have the biting odor of balsamic resins. So far, transplanting the root has not been successful. Lomatium is considered a rare species of the parsley family. Due to grazing, wildfires and over harvesting it is becoming an endangered plant as it is mainly a wild-crafted herb. Please harvest with care and respect, being sure to leave plenty of living plants untouched for future generations.
The plant’s volatile oil is one of its principal therapeutic agents and can be lost in making decoctions, so some prefer to prepare it as a powder.
Lomatium is not native to China and is therefore not considered a Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb. Modern TCM herbal practitioners however, are happy to incorporate it into their selections of top herbs used for treating infectious lung conditions.
Glucosides, resembles a Balsam as it contains an Oleogumresin and an Acid because of its Alkaloids and Gulcosides. The Volatile oil is one of its principal therapeutic agents and is lost in making decoctions.
Tastes Like Celery
Tastes a bit like celery, parsnip or stale biscuits.
NOT Hemlock Parsley
Lomatium is very similar looking to its highly poisonous cousin, “hemlock parsley.” Proper identification is key.
Lomatium is regarded today as a strong antimicrobial, expectorant and antiviral medicine.
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