Lovage (Du Huo Cao)
Botanical Name: Levisticum officinale
Lovage has many attributes, including its ability to treat general pain, inflammation, indigestion, and joint pain. It is used both as a culinary herb and as a medicine. Lovage root, young stalks, leaves, and seeds have a tasty celery flavor. Lovage has aquaretic properties that help it to increase urination and release toxins and excess fluids from the body without also losing important electrolytes in the manner many diuretics do. This ability makes it useful for what has been and is known as “irrigation therapy,” the cleansing of toxins from the body through urination. Do not confuse Chinese lovage root, Liguticum Chuanxiong, with lovage, Levisticum officinale. They are different plants and can be confused due to their similar common names.
Below is an overview of Lovage (Du Huo Cao), 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 Lovage (Du Huo Cao).
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Western Name: Lovage
Also Known As: Lovage Root, False Celery
Organs/Systems: Liver, Digestive System, Uterus, Skin, Bladder
Key Actions: Digestive, Expectorant, Anti-inflammatory, Aquaretic, Diuretic, Antibacterial, Antioxidant, Emmenagogue, Carminative, Stomachic, Diaphoretic, Antiseptic.
Medicinal Uses: Poor digestion, irregular menses, sore throat, jaundice, malaria, gout, joint pain, migraines, intermittent fevers, acne, psoriasis, urinary tract infections, kidney stones.
Pin Yin: Du Huo Cao
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Spleen, Liver, Kidney
Key Actions: Promotes Urination, Softens Nodules, Stimulates the Uterus, Tonifies the Liver, Removes Stagnation, Resolves Swelling.
Medicinal Uses: Nausea, edema, headache, constipation, gout, rheumatism, jaundice, arteriosclerosis, delayed menses, menstrual cramping, acne, psoriasis, boils, bruises, sores, tumors, Damp Cold in the Uterus.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Leaves, Seeds
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Warming
Caution: Considered safe, it can increase sensitivity to the sun if you use too high a dose for too long.
History/Folklore: Lovage has been used for centuries. The herb’s medicinal and therapeutic properties have been noted by ancient Greek and Roman healers. Its antibacterial properties have been shown to decrease E. coli, salmonella and other bacterial infections. Among other uses, it has been used as a natural diuretic to relieve kidney stones, cleanse the blood, and treat malaria, arthritis, and migraines.
The emperor Charlemagne was reported to like the sight of lovage so much that he had it planted all around his estates.
Midwives in the Middle Ages held lovage root in high regard. It was used as a medium-strength uterine stimulant and pain killer before, during, and post pregnancy.
In 1597, the herbalist, John Gerard considered lovage to be one of the greatest medicines of his day and used it to treat jaundice, childhood fevers, and colic.
The 17th century English herbalist, Culpeper said, “ It opens, cures, and digests humours, and mightily provokes women’s courses and urine…”
In the 1800’s a blend of lovage, tansy, and yarrow was used to treat stomach disorders.
The compound furanocoumarin, found in the roots, can lead to photosensitivity in some people.
The roots contain a heavy, volatile oil, that is a mild aquaretic (promotes the excretion of water without the loss of electrolytes).
In Romania, the leaves are preferred over parsley or dill for cooking. They also used the dried roots combined with seeds to conserve and add flavor to pickled cabbage and cucumbers.
The plant is sometimes called “false celery” and the seeds “celery seeds” in reference to their celery like flavor.
Do not confuse Chinese lovage root, Liguticum Chuanxiong, with lovage, Levisticum officinale. They are different plants and can be confused due to their similar common names. From an Oriental medicine perspective this herb is a warming herb noted for its ability to treat conditions associated with excessive Pathogenic Cold and Stagnation setting in.
Lovage has also been used to make love potions.
In Britain, an alcoholic cordial is made from lovage that is traditionally mixed with brandy as a winter drink. The typical recipe is 2 parts lovage to 1 part brandy.
Lovage is used as a fragrance in cosmetics and soaps.
The name “lovage” is from “love-ache”, ache being a medieval name for parsley. Levisticum is thought to be a corruption of an earlier Latin Ligusticum, which means “of Liguria” (northwest Italy) where the herb was known to grow. Both names are used today for different but closely related genera, Levisticum for what is commonly called lovage and Ligusticum for what is commonly called Scots lovage.
Want Lovage (Du Huo Cao)?
Here are some options…
Roots – Furanocoumarins, Quercetin, Vitamin C.
Line Your Shoes
In the Middle Ages, travelers lined their footwear with lovage to help prevent foot odor.
Only capers have a higher quercetin content than lovage root. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Parsley and Cucumber
Lovage is an excellent companion plant, especially for cucumber and parsley.
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