Since the Middle Ages, the tormentil plant has been used to ease what was known as “torments” (intestinal colic). Its name comes from that fact. And due to its intense effects, it is called potentilla in Latin, which comes from potentem (powerful).
Tormentil Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Potentilla tormentilla L., Potentilla erecta (L) Rāuschel.
- Other Names – Shepherd’s knot, upright septfoil.
- French – Tormentille.
- Spanish – Tormentilla.
- Environment – Spread all over wet plains and mountains of Europe, it is also known in America.
- Description – Plant of the Rosaceae family, growing from 10 to 40 cm high, with weak stems, leaves with three toothed segments, and flowers with four petals, unlike other Potentilla species such as silverweed and five-finger grass which have five petals.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally – The rhizome (underground stem) when fresh.
The tormentil plant’s main component of the tormentil rhizome is tannin, which makes up 15 percent of its weight. It also contains a glycoside (tormentilline) and bitter chinovic acid. It has strong astringent and antidiarrheic properties and hemostatic (stops hemorrhages) properties. It is recommended for the following cases:
- Infectious diarrhea of all types – The tormentil plant calms colic aches caused by intestinal spasms, which usually go together with diarrhea.
- Hemorrhoids – when locally applied (sitz baths), it reduces the inflammation of hemorrhoids and stops bleeding.
- Stomatitis and pharyngitis – used in mouth rinsings and gargles.
- Epistaxis (nasal hemorrhages). Applied as irrigation or by soaking a gauze packing.
How to use Tormentil
- Decoction with 30 grams of rhizome per liter of water. Drink three or four cups daily until diarrhea stops.
- Powder – The recommended dose is 2-4 grams daily, in capsules.
- Sitz baths – Add 1 to 2 liters of a decoction more concentrated to the bathwater than that used internally (60 to 100 grams per liter).
- Mouth rinses and gargles – With the decoction mentioned above.
- Irrigation and nasal packing, with the same decoction.
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. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 519. Print.[Tormentil Plant]