Botanical Name: Anemone Hepatica – Hepatica nobilis, H. acutiloba, H. americana, H. triloba, H. henryi.
Hepatica has been used for centuries to treat ailments relating to the liver. This includes cirrhosis, jaundice, fatty liver disease and hepatitis. It is also useful for treating respiratory conditions.
Below is an overview of Hepatica (Gan), 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 Hepatica (Gan).
Western Name: Hepatica
Also Known As: Anemone Hepatica, Hepatica triloba, Liverleaf, Liverwort, Noble Liverwort, Kidney Liverleaf, Heart Liverleaf
Organs/Systems: Liver, Gallbladder, Kidney, Lungs
Key Actions: Astringent, Diuretic, Demulcent, Tonic, Mucilaginous, Toxic, Rubefacient, Vulnerary, Antispasmodic, Antimicrobial, Laxative
Medicinal Uses: Bronchitis, indigestion, vomiting, gum disease, jaundice, headache, sore throats, slow healing cuts, stomach cramps, nausea, abdominal discomfort, increase urine, liver tonic, constipation, varicose veins, improve blood circulation, cleanse the blood, hemorrhoids, menopausal symptoms.
Pin Yin: Gan
Also Known As: Anemone Hepatica
Meridians: Liver, Gallbladder, Kidney
Key Actions: Clears Heat, Dries Phlegm, Soothes Coughs, Clears Damp Heat, Moves Blood, Tonifies the Liver, Stops Bleeding
Medicinal Uses: Coughs, fever, bronchitis, jaundice, gallstones, cirrhosis, improves appetite, constipation, nervous agitation, irritability, hepatitis, stomach aches, heartburn, cuts and bruises, snake bites, gastric hemorrhage, vomiting of blood.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Generally the Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Astringing, Cooling, Bitter
Caution: High doses of hepatica may irritate the kidneys and urinary tract. Avoid fresh leaves as they contain the toxic substance protoanemonin that is converted to anemonin when dried, rendering it safer to use.
History/Folklore: Hepatica is a mild remedy that has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments but most especially the kidneys, liver and gallbladder. It is not often used in modern herbalism, and is, in fact, an endangered species. It was once a go-to herb for cleansing the blood, supporting the liver, and treating a wide variety of liver ailments. Externally it can be used to treat slow healing wounds and skin diseases.
The demand and interest for liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha L.), an entirely different plant from hepatic (Hepatica nobilis, H. acutiloba. H. americana, H. triloba), soared in the 1880’s likely due to mistaken identity and an attempt to fulfill the demand for the popular cure all hepatica that is also commonly called liverwort. This demand became known as the “hepatica boom.” In 1883, the consumption of hepatic in the U.S. alone was about 450,000 pounds, with much of the supply being sent to the U.S. from Europe.
The Chippewa tribe used the herb to treat convulsions in children and called it, “it is silent,” a possible reference to the herbs ability to quiet the symptoms of convulsions. Both the Cherokee and Chippewa tribes used the leaves to treat liver disorders.
Hepatica has been used to treat fevers, hepatic complaints (liver complaints from cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, nausea, jaundice, hepatitis, abdominal pain, and vomiting), bleeding from the lungs, coughs, and colds. The plants mucilaginous and astringing properties make it a good herb for treating bronchitis.
Hepatica extract has long been used to treat gallstones and its mildly astringing properties can help calm an upset stomach and stimulate contractions in the intestines to help promote proper bowel function. The herb has also been used to stimulate an appetite.
Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century English herbalist, recommended liverwort for treating “bites of mad-dogs.”
Hepatica infused in water helps to support proper pancreatic function.
The tannins and flavonoids found in hepatica, are known to contain antioxidant properties that can help prevent the damage caused by free radicals. These compounds also inhibit the growth of fungi, yeasts, bacteria, and viruses helping to prevent a wide variety of infections and ailments associated with these various microbes. The astringing properties of the tannins also help to treat internal bleeding. The herb has been used to treat slow healing wounds, and minor injuries.
Hepatica can be used in gargle to help soothe swollen sore throats, ease coughing, and reduce chronic irritation of the neck and throat.
In homeopathy, hepatica is an old remedy used to treat bronchitis, irritated sore throats, poor digestion, and congested lungs. It is used to treat bloody mucus blown from the left nostrils for three or four days in succession.
Heptica is poisonous in large doses. This toxicity is used by trained herbalists and healthcare practitioners to disperse heat or eliminate drying.
It use to be a widespread practice to eat the first emerging flowers in spring as it was believed they protected you against a variety of diseases and viper bites.
Some of the triterpenoid saponins found in hepatica display immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
The genus Anemone contains more than 50 species of flowering plants and is closely related to Pulsatilla, Clematis, and Hepatica. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this species are known for among other things Clearing Heat, eliminating Damp, and Dispersing Wind.
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Anthocyanins, Flavonoids, Tannins, Triterpenoid saponins.
Externally tea made from hepatica can be applied as a wash to treat swollen breasts.
Back in the day, hepatica was used to help reduce freckles.
Hepatica is used in homeopathy to treat bronchitis.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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