FIGWORT (Scrophularia nodosa)
Also known as:
carpenters square, escrophularia (Spanish), kernelwort, knoldbrunro (Danish), Knotige Braunwurz (German), knotted figwort, rosenoble, scrophula plant, scrophulaire noueuse (French), throatwort, woodland figwort and another related species Chinese figwort (Scrophularia ningpoensis).
The botanical name for figwort, Scrophularia, comes from its traditional use as a remedy for scrofula, a tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes in the neck. The plant’s rhizomes resemble swollen glands and in the 'doctrine of signatures', a philosophy that was shared by herbalists during the time of Galen (130 to 200 AD), a herb that resembles a specific body part could also be used to treat ailments afflicting it. During the Middle Ages, figwort was thought to be one
of the most effectivee medicinal plants to treat swellings and tumours.
Figwort is a good diuretic that also has mild laxative and analgesic properties and a stimulating effect on blood circulation, the heart, liver, and lymphatic system. It is also used externally for chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis and to treat itching and haemorrhoids.
The compounds harpagoside and harpagid found in figwort are thought to have the ability to soothe joint pain and they are also found in devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
Figwort can also be taken as a tea to treat the common cold and is often mixed with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and/or or peppermint (Mentha x piperita pipe).
The antibiotic properties of figwort come from its components such as flavonoids, glycoside, phenolic acids (caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid), phytosterols and saponins. It also contains amino acids, asparagine and essential fatty acids.
NOTE: The figwort is closely related to foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and both plants contain glycosides that can adversely affect the heart. Although figwort contains far less of these compounds, caution should be taken when using it internally and it should be completely avoided by individuals any with heart problems as well as children and pregnant or lactating women.
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