Goutweed (Ground elder) – healer arthritis
Ground elder is a plant which fits perfectly with some gardening proverb “weed is a plant whose benefits have not yet been discovered”. To this day, ground elder is treated by gardeners as very difficult to get rid of the weed. It is easier to find information on how to combat this plant than information about its health benefits. And they are truly unusual…
Let’s start with the name.
The Latin name of this plant is Aegopodium podagraria L., podagraria means “treating gout.” Also in many other languages, including Polish language name “podagrycznik” suggests which properties have this plant. In England ground elder is often called “goutweed” and “herb arthritis” or herb of St. Gerard Gerard, who is the patron saint of people with rheumatic diseases.
A little history
Since people have used ground elder for medicinal purposes? Actually, we can say that forever. Archaeological excavations indicate that this plant has been used already by the Neanderthals, probably for the treatment of deformed joints and relieve pain. Later, it was used more by a few herbalists in the, Middle Ages was cultivated in monastery gardens as a vegetable or spice, rather than as a herb raw material. In the literature we find frequent mention of the fact that it is difficult to get rid of the weed, than descriptions of its medicinal properties. Ground elder became a valued source of medicinal plant only at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when Father Johann Künzle, famous Swiss phyto therapist, began to use the remarkable properties of ground elder in the treatment of diseases of the joints, gout, varicose veins and many other diseases.
What hides Ground elder?
Past research on the chemical composition of ground elder indicate that this plant includes:
- Essential oils, mainly limonene (the same as in lemon, has antibacterial properties) and felandren that has fungicidal properties.
- large amounts of vitamin C (200 mg in 100 g of fresh plant) and provitamin A (carotene) to 12 mg in 100 grams,
- minerals: iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium and potassium,
- flavonoids, which are antioxidants,
- saponins which have diuretic and expectorant properties
Currently used material is a green ground elder, less roots. Fresh, ground elder young leaves are used in cooking.
The use of ground elder
- Rheumatic diseases and gout (podagra)
Ground elder in traditional medicine is used primarily in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and gout. Nicholas Culpeper, English physician, herbalist and botanist who lived in the seventeenth century, wrote of ground elder in his book “Complete Herbal”: “Do not take that ground elder (goutweed) got its name without a good reason, but because they were experienced, that is able to treat arthritis and pain in the sciatic nerve (ischias). “Of course, this assertion was based primarily on experience, without the knowledge of the mechanisms of action of compounds found in ground elder. Modern scientific research shows that ground elder has a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic (antiaggregatory) properties. Rheumatic diseases and gout caused by accumulation of uric acid salts in the tissue, ground elder accelerates removal of uric acid from the body and improves abnormal metabolic mechanisms that cause the disease.
- Diseases of the digestive systems
Ground elder can be used in intestinal function disorders, running with alternating constipation and diarrhea, also speeds up digestion, so it can be used by people slimming up.
- Urinary tract
Incidentally ground elder is used in kidney stones and bladder diseases.
- Cleansing the body
Ground elder has a detoxifying and cleansing the body and can therefore be used as an herb supporting the work of the liver. Due to diuretic properties and the fact that accelerates the digestion may also be used during the purification treatment.
- Antimicrobial Properties
Numerous studies have shown that extracts of the herb ground elder (especially alcoholic extracts) inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and sticks pneumonia (Klebsiella pneumoniae), also inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic fungi.
At the end…
It is worth mentioning about the culinary uses ground elder. The kitchen uses mainly fresh picked spring shoots, dried herb is also used as a spice. Fresh, spring sprouts, we can prepare the salad by adding young dandelion leaves and watercress, we can also prepare the soup, adding young nettle leaves and plantain, the spring should also prepare juice, which has a de-acidifying properties of the body.