Description: The plant is a spiny subshrub of less than 1 m in height bearing trifoliate leaves on the lower branches and simple leaves higher up. Attractive pink and white flowers are produced in summer, followed by small seed pods.
Origin: Europe, western Asia and North Africa. Commercial product is wild-harvested in southeastern Europe.
Parts Used: Dried roots, harvested in autumn (Ononidis radix). The roots have a characteristic radiate structure in transverse section, due to broad medullary rays.
Therapeutic Category: Diuretic.
Uses and Properties: Spiny restharrow is a mild diuretic that has been used since ancient times. In traditional medicine it is employed to help support joint pain and gout. In modern times it can be used in irrigation therapy as a diuretic for inflammatory complaints of the lower urinary tract and for helping support kidney gravel.
Preparation and Dosage: A tea is prepared by pouring boiling water over 2 - 2.5 g of the coarsely powdered root. it is taken several times a day. The recommended daily dose is 6 - 12 g of the herb. It is included in herbal mixtures and diuretic preparations.
Active Ingredients: The active ingredient responsible for the diuretic effect is not yet known but it has been speculated that it could be alpha-onocerin, also known as onocol, a triterpene. It co-occurs with sterols, mainly sitosterol, and various phenolic acids. Also of interest is the presence of isoflavones (compounds characteritic of the roots of members of the Fabaceae). Ononin (formononetin7-glucoside), formononetin, genistein and biochanin A 7-glucoside, together with their 6"-malonates are the main isoflavonoids. Small amounts of essential oil (up to 0.2%) are found, with trans-anethole, carvone and menthol as major constituents.
Health Effects: The diuretic effect of restharrow root has been well established by experiments in animals. The isoflavones could exhibit oestrogenic effects.
Status: Traditional health; Pharm.; Comm. E+ ESCOP 5.
Only the root of this plant is used medically. It is bitter tasting and is regarded as an aperitive, diuretic and astringent.
Take 1 capsule, 3 times daily, with meals.
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