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Aegopodium Podagraria / Ground Elder - Classification, Ayurvedic Properties & Dosage

Description

Aegopodium podagraria or ground elder is a spreading perennial weed. It spreads by underground stems (rhizomes) and can be quite aggressive. It comes under family Apiaceae, native to europe and northern asia it was brought to north america as a decorative plant and has been used as medicine for treating gout since ancient times. It also shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and antimycobacterial properties. Their cooked leaves are edible and were cultivated as a food crop in the middle ages.

Aegopodium Podagraria, Ground Elder, Classification, Ayurvedic Properties, Dosage, Vernacular Names, Taxonomical Classification, Habitat, Chemical Composition, Ancient Verse

Systematic Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Phylum - Streptophyta
  • Class - Equisetopsida
  • Order - Apiales
  • Family - Apiaceae

Synonyms

  • Ground elder (common names)
  • Goutweed
  • Bishop's weed
  • Herb Gerard
  • Gout wort
  • Wild masterwort
  • Snow-in-the-mountain

Other Vernacular Names

  • Irish - Lus an easpaig
  • French - Herbe aux goutteux
  • Italian - Girardina silvestre
  • German - Geissfuss

Taxonomical Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Fabales
  • Family - Fabaceae
  • Sub-Family - Mimosaceae
  • Genus - Acacia
  • Species - A.farnesiana
  • Phylum - Spermatophyta
  • Class - Dicotyledonae

Habitat

Ground elder natural habitat is distributed among forests, deciduous woodlands, riparian areas, shrub lands, shorelines and gardens. It is present in areas like Europe (Italy, France, UK, Denmark etc.), USA (Alaska), Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It grows best in partial sun to full shade in well-drained, humid moist soil.

Morphology

Aegopodium podagraria is a creeping perennial. It has hairless, ridged, branched, erect and hollow stems of 4-12 inches, but may grow as 3 feet in the northern US. Leaves are 1-3 inches and in 3 group arrangement and divided into leaflets. Leaflets have lobes and teeth. The inflorescence is shield-shaped, with 20-30 rays and a smaller shield at each ray. Each small shield is made of average 15 rays with tiny, snow-white flowers at their ends. The extensive root system has main root and lateral roots. The brown fruits are 3-4 mm long, oblong-ovoid and laterally flattened.

Chemical Composition

Aegopodium podagraria contains:

Polyacetylenes

Main group of chemical compounds present in goutweed are polyacetylenes which include falcarinol and falcarindiol; these compounds are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.

Polyphenolic Compounds

Phenolic compounds present are of two categories flavonoids and phenolic acids. In goutweed flavonoids consist of quercetin and rutin, while phenolic acids consist of hydroxycinnamic acids (such as ferulic, caffeic, and p-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid). These compounds show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antiviral properties.

Essential Oils

Most abundantly found essential oil in ground elder is monoterpenes for example sabinene, other essential oils i.e. α-pinene, β-pinene, spathulenol, n-octanal, β-caryophyllene epoxide, humulene epoxide II, β-pinene are present in low amounts. These compounds exhibit antioxidative properties.

Vitamins

Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A and C are present in ground elder.

Macro And Microelements

Macroelements include calcium and potassium and examples of microelements are iron, copper, manganese.

Other Compounds

Angelicin is found in leaves, fruits and roots of goutweed and exhibits anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial properties. Arterin is found in roots and maintains cholesterol level.

Classical Categorisation

  • Bhavaprakash nighantu: Vatadi varga
  • Raja nighantu: Shalmalyadi varga
  • Dhanvantari nighantu: Amradi varga
  • Kaiyadeva nighantu: Aushdhi varga
  • Susruta: Salasaradi varga

Ayurvedic Properties

  • Rasa (Taste) - Kashya (astringent), tikta (bitter)
  • Guna (Quality) - Laghu (light to digest), Ruksha (dry)
  • Vipaka(after digestion) - Katu(pungent)
  • Effect Of Tridosha - Kapha pitta shamak (reduces the vitiated kapha and pitta dosha)

Practical Uses & Benefits

Internal Uses

  • Arthritis and Gout: Aegopodium podagraria is the most common herb for treating inflammatory conditions like rheumatism and arthritis, which has been utilized in folk medicine since ancient times. Its specific name, "podagraria," means podagra, described for gout condition. It was thought to help fight conditions related to rheumatism. All parts of the plant are antirheumatic. Infusions/tea made from dried leaves are recommended to treat gout and sciatica.
  • Diuretic Properties: Ground elder help to treat inflammation of kidneys, it acts as diuretics thus removes toxins out of the body. It is also helpful for gastrointestinal problems.
  • Metabolism: Ground elder is beneficial for improving metabolism. Chlorogenic acid presents function as a naturally occurring anti-obesity chemical, hence regulating excess body fat.
  • Supplements: Aegopodium podagraria can be used as potassium and micro-macro elements supplement for various health issues.
  • Culinary Significance: Ground elder is a plant that can be eaten in addition to its medical uses. In spring, young sprouts were consumed and cooked in soup.
  • Other Uses: Aegopodium podagraria leaves can help prevent and treat disorders caused by oxidative stress, such as inflammatory conditions, neurological diseases and cardiovascular diseases. They can also be a valuable source of antioxidants in a regular diet.

External Uses

  • Wound treatment: Fresh leaves of ground elder have been administered as dressings for burns, stings and wounds in order to speed up healing because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Landscape Uses

  • It is attractively employed for covering vast ground cover, borders, containers, and other ornamental reasons due to its attractive foliage.

Part Used

Leaves, flowers, stems and rhizomes

Dosage

  • Decoction : 14-15 gm of dried leaves in 250 ml of water
  • Poder : 400mg

Other Ayurvedic Alternative Herbs

As seen above Aegopodium podagraria is a herb of medicinal use in Apiaceae family, this family also consist of many other ayurvedic herbs more or less with similar functions as that of ground elder thus can be used as an alternative. Let's have a look at these alternatives.

Daucus carota (Wild carrot)

Wild carrot has antilithic, diuretic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties, helps to treat gout, promotes cardiac functions, treat kidney abnormalities, promotes digestion, aids in weight loss, combat respiratory issues, boosts eye health and relieves liver problems.

Effects On Doshas

It balances the Pitta doshas and Kapha doshas and can aggravate the Vata doshas.

Coriandrum sativum (Coriander)

Numerous pharmacological effects of coriander have been documented, like antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimutagenic, anthelmintic, diuretic, anticonvulsant, antifungal, anticancer, anxiolytic, hepatoprotective, and anti-ulcer, sedative and cholesterol-lowering properties. Their seeds are ingested to ease pain, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, and have been prescribed to relieve gastrointestinal disorders such as flatulence, diarrhea and nausea, whereas the decoction of coriander was believed to treat redness in eyes and mouth ulcers.

Effects On Doshas

It balances all three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Other herbs that have similar functions that of ground elder but not belong to their family are:

Curcuma longa (Turmeric)

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, antiobesity, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective effects. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is said to provide many health benefits as it is used to treat arthritis, improves digestion, dissolve gallstone, regulates menstruation and promotes general bodily health.

Effects On Doshas

It is good for all doshas. Its heating property balances Kapha and Vata doshas, while the astringent taste balances the Pitta dosha.

Commiphora wightii (Guggul)

Guggul has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antilipidemic properties generally used to treat various diseases including hyper-cholesterolemia, obesity, rheumatism, hypothyroidism, and manage blood sugar levels.

Effect On Doshas

It balances all three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Conclusion

Aegopodium podagraria or ground elder or goutweed was traditionally used as a medicinal herb for treating gouts in Europe although its use was not widespread. Nowadays more and more research has shown that this is not merely a weedy plant but also has many health benefits other than treating gout. Increasing consciousness about health, people accepted this weed in their day to day life. In ayurveda also we have many alternatives to that of ground elder which can be used for more or less same purpose, of course not all benefits can be taken using these alternatives as a single component present in a herb has its own valuable effect. Ongoing researchers will be more helpful to know more about this miraculous herb to treat mankind.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

MD (ALT. MEDICINE)

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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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