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Lovage

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  • Botanical: Levisticum officinale
  • Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
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Lovage

Botanical

Levisticum officinale

Family

Apiaceae or Umbelliferae

Known as

Liebstöckel, Maggikraut, Luststock, Nusskraut

Old Use

medical, industry, culinary

Collection Times

early spring or in the autumn

Parts Used

flowers, leaves, roots, seed

Medicinal

abscess, abdominal pain, antiseptic, anorexia, bronchitis, bronchitis, burns, colds, coughs, cramps, cramps stomach, cystitis, diabetes, digestion, gastritis, gastrointestinal, indigestion, kidney stones, kidney weakness, menstrual cramps, menstruation promotion, nausea, respiratory, sore throat, skin rashes, ulcers, urinary infections, vomiting, wounds

Hormone & Sexual Organs

amenorrhea, cramps, menstrual cramps, menstruation promotion, uterine cramps

Infection & Inflammation

mouth sores, skin inflammation, throat infections

Respiratory System

bronchitis, catarrh, cough, difficulty breathing

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, cystitis, diarrhea, digestion, flatulence, gastrointestinal, gastric inflammation, laxative, kidney stones, kidney weakness, nausea, stomach pain, stomach cramps, stomach complaints

Skin & Hair

skin rashes

Properties

abortifacient, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic

Description

Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 1.8–2.5 m tall, with a basal rosette of leaves and stems with further leaves, the flowers being produced in umbels at the top of the stems. The stems and leaves are shiny glabrous green to yellow-green and smell of lime when crushed. The larger basal leaves are up to 70 cm long, tripinnate, with broad triangular to rhomboidal, acutely pointed leaflets with a few marginal teeth; the stem leaves are smaller, and less divided with few leaflets. The flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in globose umbels up to 10–15 cm diameter; flowering is in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long, mature in autumn.

Properties & Uses

Lovage is a warming and tonic herb for the digestive and respiratory systems. It is used primarily in the treatment of indigestion, poor appetite, wind, colic and bronchitis. The roots, leaves and fruits are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, mildly expectorant and stimulant. They are used internally in the treatment of disordered stomachs, especially cases of colic and flatulence in children, kidney stones, cystitis, painful menstruation and slow labour. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of sore throats and aphthous ulcers. The roots of plants 3 years old can be harvested in early spring or in the autumn and are used fresh or dried. The leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and either distilled for their oil or dried for later use. The leaves, either eaten in salads or dried and infused as a tea, have been used as an emmenagogue. The essential oil from the seeds is used by aromatherapists to remove freckles and spots from the face.

Other Uses

An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. Used as a savoury flavouring in salads, soups, stews etc, imparting a yeasty/celery flavour. The leaves can be used fresh or dried and are available from late winter until late autumn. To ensure a good supply of the leaves in the summer, it is best to cut the plants down to the ground when flowering in the summer. The young stem can be blanched and used like celery in salads or as a savoury flavouring in cooked foods. Seed - raw or cooked. A strong yeasty flavour, it is used as a flavouring in cakes, soups, salads etc. It can be used whole or ground into a powder. Root - cooked. A strong savoury taste, it can be used as a flavouring or cooked as a vegetable. It is best grated. Best used when 2 - 3 years old. Flowers. No more details are given. A tea is made from the dried leaves. A strong savoury flavour, it tastes more like a broth. A tea can also be made from the grated roots. An essential oil from the root is used commercially as a food flavouring. Yields of 0.5% are obtained

Cautions

Lovage is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine. The volatile oil is an irritant. Contraindicated with kidney or urinary passage inflammation. Avoid during pregnancy.

Distribution

The exact native range is disputed; some sources cite it as native to much of Europe and southwestern Asia, others from only the eastern Mediterranean region in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, and yet others only to southwestern Asia in Iran and Afghanistan, citing European populations as naturalised. It has been long cultivated in Europe, the leaves being used as a herb, the roots as a vegetable, and the seeds as a spice, especially in southern European cuisine

Constituents

Lovage contains a volatile oil, angelic acid, a bitter extractive, resins, etc. The colouring principle has been isolated by M. Niklis, who gives it the name of Ligulin, and suggests an important application of it that may be made in testing drinking water. If a drop of its alcoholic or aqueous solution is allowed to fall into distilled water, it imparts to the liquid its own fine crimson-red colour, which undergoes no change; but if limestone water be substituted, the red colour disappears in a few seconds and is followed by a beautiful blue, due to the alkalinity of the latter.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.