Indigo / Baptisia
Indigo / Baptisia (Da Qing Ye)
Botanical Name: Western – Baptisia Australis (False Indigo), B. Tinctoria (Wild Indigo). Eastern – Isatis tinctoria L.
Indigo / Baptisia has long been both a beautiful ornamental garden flower as well as having a history as a being a strong medicinal herb often used to fight difficult feverish and infectious illnesses.
Below is an overview of Baptisia (Da Qing Ye), 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 Baptisia (Da Qing Ye).
Western Name: Indigo / Baptisia
Also Known As: Blue Wild Indigo, False Indigo
Organs/Systems: Lungs, Wounds, Stomach, Blood, Body Fluids
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antiseptic, Immuno-stimulative, Astringent, Antimicrobial, Anticatarrhal, Febrifuge, Alterative, Emetic, Purgative (in high doses), Laxative, Emmenagogue, Estrogenic. Sore throats, snake bites, bruises, superficial lacerations, respiratory tract infections, sore nipples, erysipelatous, scrofulous, syphilitic ulcers, healing wounds, tonsillitis, mild cardiac agent.
Pin Yin: Da Qing Ye (Isatis tinctoria L.)
Also Known As: Big Green Leaf, Woad Leaf, Indigo
Meridians: Heart, Lung, Stomach
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat/Relieves Toxicity: warm febrile diseases, epidemic febrile outbreak (especially if lung related) malaria, scarlet fever. Clears Deficient Heat in Shao Yang stage: laryngitis. Cools Blood/Reduces Blotches: skin disorders due to heat often with fever and changes in consciousness.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Very Cold, a bit Acrid, and a bit Astringent.
Caution: Wild indigo (B.Tinctoria) is considered toxic. Dosages are not established. However, large doses are known to be dangerous, acting as an emeto-cathartic.
History/Folklore: Indigo is an excellent astringent, making it useful for dressing all kinds of ulcerations, malignant ulcers, and sore mouths (especially when accompanied by foul breath, loss of appetite and general gastric disturbance).
Indigo tea will improve the flow of bile, induce nausea and vomiting while reducing fever and stimulating bowels.
American Indians used the roots of indigo for creating emetic (causes vomiting) and laxative teas. The roots can also be used to reduce inflammation and aching teeth. The Mohegan tribe of south New England cultivated the root for a medicine to wash gaping wounds with.
Prior to 1837 Indigo was used by Eclectic physicians for treating diarrhea with offensive discharges, typhus fever, scarlatina maligna, and putrid sore throat. Wild indigo was a favorite herb with antiseptic properties used by these early Eclectics. It was mentioned early in the 20th century by Dr. James Thacher, in his Dispensatory, as a local remedy for gangrenous and other ill-conditioned sores due to debilitated conditions of the body. Still it received little attention until the “Eclectic fathers,” in their studies of indigenous plants, pronounced it a valuable drug. In 1846, Prof. John King highly recommended Indigo for its alterative and antiseptic properties. At some stage in the early 19th century, the US Pharmacopoeia approved wild indigo extracts to help treat typhoid fever.
Indigo is an active and efficient hepatic, stimulating the liver and causing increased biliary secretion. It is especially effective treating sepsis, accompanied by dark or purplish discoloration of skin and mucous membranes. The appearance of the face will be swollen, dusky, and expressionless—as if it has been exposed to cold for a long time.
Indigo is not the remedy for acute disease characterized by great activity. It is better for cases showing marked capillary feebleness, with tendency to ulceration—a condition of atony.
Often combined with Echinacea to cure chronic viral conditions or chronic fatigue syndrome. Add myrrh to aid infections and wound healing. Disorders relating to the lymph are best blended with cleavers and poke root.
The bitter flavor is due to the constituent baptisin.
The isoflavone (genistein) found in Indigo is responsible for the herbs estrogenic properties.
When the australis sap found in indigo hits the air it turns purple and is used for dying.
The roots are dug out in the fall after the plant has stopped flowering.
Alkaloids, Glycoprotein, Oleo-resin, Isoflavones (Genistein), Flavonoids, Coumarins, Polysaccharides, Baptisin.
False indigo (Baptisia Australis) is often substituted for wild indigo (B. Tinctoria) because it is cheaper and much easier to grow.
Indigo can lose much of its efficacy when it is dried or boiled.
As a Dye
False indigo (Baptisia Australis) produces an inferior dye to wild indigo (B. Tinctoria), which has been used for over 4000 years to produce superior indigo colored dyes.
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