The rhizome of the bistort plant is very difficult to uproot and forms two angles, as its name shows: bistort means twice crooked. It is reddish and presents a high percentage of starch, thus being used as food in times of famine.
Bistort Scientific Facts
- Scientific Names: Polygonum bistorta L.
- Other Names: Dragonwort, Easter giant, patience dock, red legs, snakeweed, sweet dock.
- French: Bistorte.
- Spanish: Bistorta, serpentaria.
- Environment: Common in humid, mountainous soils in Europe and America.
- Description: It grows up to one meter high; this plant belongs to the Polygonaceae family. Its stem is full of joints, a standard feature of this botanical family. It has large, oval-shaped leaves and pink flowers growing in tip spikes.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The rhizome (underground stem).
The rhizome of the this plant contains plenty of gallic and catechic tannins, which give the plant a solid astringent action. It is probably one of the most astringent plants known. The bistort acts locally by drying, cicatrizing, and “tanning” the skin and the mucous membranes of the body. It also has antiseptic (fighting infections) and hemostatic (stopping small hemorrhages) actions. Therefore, it is recommended in the following cases:
- Gingivitis and periodontists (weak and bleeding gums) applied in oral rinses with the cold extract of the rhizome.
- Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth mucous membrane), and pharyngitis, applied in mouth rinses with the cold extract of the rhizome.
- Diarrhea and gastroenteritis, especially when they appear with infection and hemorrhage (dysentery, salmonellosis, cholera).
- Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), which appears with leukorrhea (vaginal flow, whitish and abundant).
How to use Bistort
- Decoction with 20 to 30 grams of ground rhizome per liter of water, drinking three or four cups daily.
- Mouth rinses. With the liquid of the cold extract with 60 to 100 grams of ground rhizome per liter of water, steeping for four hours.
- Vaginal irrigations. With a decoction of 40 to 50 grams rhizome per liter of water.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 198. Print.