Aquilegia: medicinal properties, method of use and benefits

Aquilegia: medicinal properties, method of use and benefits


Aquilegia vulgaris





L'Aquilegia vulgaris belongs to the family of Ranuncolaceae and it was a plant used until 1800 for its different therapeutic properties.

Its peculiarity consists in the fact that the flowers, which begin to appear in spring, are characterized by five sepals that surround five petals each forming a long hooked spur that resembles a curved horn. The flowers are terminals carried by long stems and their color is blue-turquoise even if there are an infinity of hybrids that give the plant different colors.


The naturalists of the past, due to the fact that the columbine flower resembled an eagle, attributed to this plant the ability to make acute eyesight like that of an eagle, which is actually not true as it has been ascertained that in reality its properties are other.

There are several properties of columbine for which it was used in the past: for disorders of the nervous system, as an antiseptic, as an astringent, as a calming and cleansing agent. It was also used to combat scurvy. In reality today it is very little used as it has been discovered that both the aerial parts and the seeds contain toxic substances for humans.


Columbine seeds, flowers, leaves and roots are used.

In the past the flowers ofAquilegia vulgaris (but also of other species) were consumed in small quantities by Native Americans as a condiment along with other fresh vegetables.


Aquilegia, being a plant that contains various toxic substances, is not recommended for use unless under direct medical supervision.


If you want to know the meaning that has been given to this plant over time and where its name comes from, see: Aquilegia - The language of flowers and plants"


The characteristics of the plant and how to best cultivate it are illustrated on the page: Aquilegia - How to grow and care for plants.

Echinacea: what it is, properties, uses and contraindications

by Catia Penta

Echinacea is a wild flower which grows spontaneously in the meadows. It was once widely used by Indians to treat various ailments and today it is recognized as immunostimulating plant to strengthen the immune system. There are many varieties but only 3 species are mainly used in phytotherapy: purpurea, angustifolia and pallida. But it is above all echinacea purpurea which arouses more interest in scientific research.

The efficacy of echinacea in the treatment of colds has been recognized for a long time. Several studies have shown that daily supplementation during the winter months would significantly reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms. On the other hand, the benefits of echinacea in prevention of colds are more discussed.

In fact, scientific studies on the prevention of colds or flu have given variable results because theThe preventive effect may vary from one person to the other. Furthermore, it also depends on the type of virus and the preparation used. On the other hand, on the reduction of cold symptoms (headache, sore throat, weakness and chills), a study published in 2007 states that a treatment with echinacea shortened both the duration of symptoms and the intensity by 1.4 days. .

According to theWHO, who published one study in 2002, in collaboration with the Italian Association of Phytotherapy, other uses supported by clinical data are the treatment of urinary tract infections, wound healing and the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases for external use. While the cure of fungal infection, rheumatoid arthritis and the decrease of side effects from radiotherapy are part of folk medicine and they have no scientific value.

Find it out Italian study.

In any case, according to the WHO, some subjects must not take echinacea andinternal or external use should not exceed the duration of 8 weeks.

Aquilegia meaning

The name of this plant comes from the Latin aquilegium, which means "water container". The particular shape of the funnel-shaped petals seems to suggest this capacity for containing and collecting rainwater.

Another possible etymological origin refers to the term eagle. The petals of the flower are reminiscent of the claws of this bird of prey. In Anglo-Saxon speaking countries she is known as Columbine but she is also known as a dancer. Aquilegia: it is a plant with colorful flowers and a characteristic shape, mainly used for ornamental purposes.


Like any other plant with medicinal effects, it is important to check with your doctor before taking it to find out if it can interfere with your medications. Beyond this standard specification, ashwagandha can induce low blood pressure and low blood sugar. To be avoided in case of peptic ulcer and hyperthyroidism. Not recommended in case of pregnancy because it can have abortive properties. Avoid excessive consumption of ashwagandha, as it may have side effects such as diarrhea, upset stomach and nausea.

Benefits and properties

Despite its millennial use in different cultures around the world, clinical tests on the effects of Mallow are still very limited.

The active components of the leaves and flowers of Mallow are

  • Flavonoids
  • Mucilage
  • Anthocyanins
  • Tannins
  • Terpenes
  • Phenols
  • Tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

The German Commission E (reference body for phytotherapeutic preparations of the Western tradition) has approved Mallow (leaves and flowers) for the following uses:

  • Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Inflammation of the mouth and throat

In vitro or animal studies have found other probable effects - which, however, must be confirmed in humans both in terms of efficacy and safety of use. In detail, these preliminary studies on Mallow extracts have highlighted a potential effect:

  • Antimicrobial and antiviral: numerous in vitro tests have shown good antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus Aureus, Escherichia Coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Helicobacter Pylori. Other tests have also shown good efficacy against Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a bacterium often involved in periodontitis. Finally, the dry extract of Malva sylvestris showed a significant antiviral activity against cells infected with the HIV virus, with a 60% reduction in infectious power.
  • Antifungal, against Candida and Aspergillus Niger (responsible for the dark mold that forms on fruit and vegetables in humans can cause otomycosis, an ear infection).
  • Anti-inflammatory: some experiments conducted on rats with the hydroalcoholic extract of the leaves of Malva Parviflora have highlighted its ability to counteract inflammation in the brain, suggesting its potential use in preventing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer's (whose inflammatory component is now well known). The anti-inflammatory effect could also have an important role in relieving the depressive symptoms associated with neuronal inflammation.
  • Antihypertensive: Malva Parviflora extract has shown some effectiveness in countering hypertension (high blood pressure), both acute and chronic, in experiments conducted on animals.
  • Analgesic: in experiments conducted on mice, the freeze-dried aqueous extract of M.sylvestris demonstrated a significant analgesic effect against abdominal pain - probably due to the inhibitory effect on prostaglandin synthesis (endogenous molecules involved in inflammation and pain sensitivity ).
  • Antioxidant, thanks to the high presence of phenolic compounds (but also vitamin C and E) in the leaves and flowers. The Parviflora species (very widespread in Africa) seems to be the most effective under the antioxidant profile.
  • Anticancer: Malva sylvestris has shown antiproliferative effect against some tumor lines of melanoma and has proved effective against mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth and pharynx) and xerostomia (dry mouth) induced by chemo and radiotherapy. Xerostomia is one of the most common complications in patients treated with radiotherapy for head and neck cancer (HNC): in a pilot experiment conducted on patients being treated for HNC, the administration of an extract of M.sylvestris (in combination with Alcea digitata, also belonging to the Malvaceae family) showed a significant improvement not only against xerostomia and mucositis, but also in chewing, speech articulation and pain reduction, compared to the control group.
    The same combination of M. sylvestris and Alcea digitata, in a randomized experiment conducted in double blind versus placebo, on patients being treated for prostate cancer, was shown to prevent the onset of gastrointestinal side effects of radiotherapy and to delay the need to take analgesic or antidiarrheal drugs.
    Finally, in an experiment conducted on rats, Malva sylvestris was found to be able to reduce the renal and hepatic side effects induced by cisplatin (a powerful anticancer drug used for the treatment, among others, of ovarian, testicular and bladder cancer. )

For topical use, the preparations of Mallow (in association with other plants with synergistic action) have shown good efficacy in treating

  • Skin irritations
  • Alopecia and scalp disorders

Properties and use in history

Used in the history of Rauwolfia it is relegated to the regions of origin. Ayurvedic medicine, the typical Indian medicine, has always exploited the pharmacological power of sedation in psychopathies, which its herbal teas possess.

The name of serpentine derives from another typical use that is made in India: that of using it in potions against the bites of snakes, but also of rats and scorpions. All animals of which there is a very large and problematic population in India.

description of the active ingredients

as mentioned the main constituent of Rauwolfia is an alkaloid which has been baptized reserpine. But it is not the only one, in this plant thirty have been isolated, which have been in three different groups to which it belongs. Among the various alkaloids, after reserpine, ajmaline plays an interesting and considered pharmacological role, since its chemical structure and its action are very similar to those of quinidine, an alkaloid used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Other important alkaloids present are aimalicin, ajmalinin and serpentine.

Dose and method of use

Dried leaves and flowers of Mallow are mainly used in the form of infusion or decoction.

To prepare the infusion, 2-5 g of leaves and / or flowers (1-2 tablespoons) are used and left to infuse for about half an hour in 150-200 ml of boiling water, to be sipped 2-3 times throughout the day. or to use for gargling.

To prepare the decoction, the same quantities are used and it is left to boil for 2-3 minutes. The decoction is often used for compresses on inflamed gums.

Alternatively, Mallow essential oil is also available on the market

In the kitchen, leaves and flowers are used for the preparation of salads, soups, omelettes and fillings.

There are no known side effects or drug interactions

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