Botanical: Scrophularia ningpoensis
Family: Scrophulariacea (figwort/snapdragon)
Other common names: Common Figwort, Carpenter's Square, Figwort Root, Heal-all, Kernelwort, Knotty-rooted Figwort, Scrofula Plant, Rose-noble, Stinking Christopher, Throatwort, Xuan Shen
Figwort has been taken both internally and externally as a respected remedy for chronic skin diseases. The herb has been particularly effective in the treatment of lymphatic ailments, especially scrofula, and its diuretic properties have been used to help cleanse the system and eliminate wastes from the kidneys.
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Figwort is a perennial plant, and the species Scrophularia nodosa is native to the Old World but naturalized in North America from Newfoundland to New England. Its closely-related American cousins (Scrophularia marilandica and Scrophularia californica ) are natives of the United States, where they are found in rocky woodlands, thickets and roadsides, and all plants are used in the same manner. Figwort is a shrub that thrives in rich, moist-to-wet soil in sun or partial shade and may reach a height of ten feet. Figwort has a knobby rootstock, erect stem with serrate leaves and dark purple flowers that bloom in the summertime. The plant has an offensive taste and odor. The medicinal uses of the species Scrophularia ningpoensis have been documented since the later Han Dynasty of China (A.D. 25-220), and the herb was revered in Europe for treating skin diseases of all kinds. The English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, mentioned it in his English Physi[t]ian Enlarged of 1653 as the best remedy for the "king's evil," describing tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands. One of the herb's common names, Scrofula Plant, is derived from its efficacy in successfully treating the disease. Figwort apparently has some nutritious value, because when Cardinal Richelieu laid siege to the French city of La Rochelle from 1627-1628, the Protestant garrison within was reduced to eating and subsisting on the plant. Old herbalists called the plant Scrophularia and utilized it as a remedy for scrofulous ailments, such as tuberculosis of the lymph glands and other diseases characterized by swellings and eruptions. Some of the constituents included in Figwort are saponins, glycosides and flavonoids, aucubin (a cardioactive substance) and harpagide.
Figwort is a tonic for lymphatic system function. It has been used for centuries to treat swollen lymph nodes and treat scrofula, a form of tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes, especially of the neck. It is frequently characterized by bacterial infection and sores on the skin of the neck and swelling that will spread throughout the body through the lymphatic system. The herb has been effective in treating the disease, as well as other chronic skin diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis and pruritus when taken internally.
Used externally, Figwort is also an effective topical medication for skin ailments, such as burns, wounds, rashes, boils, scratches, bruises and some fungal conditions.
As a diuretic, Figwort is believed to maintain clean kidneys. The herb promotes the flow of urine and increases the excretion of uric acid and other waste products from the kidneys.
Figwort is said to be a cardioactive herb, which may help to stimulate and strengthen the heart, as well as slow the heartbeat, and as such, should be used with caution.
Figwort is thought to stimulate circulation throughout the body and is said to be helpful in treating many circulatory disorders, including varicose veins and high blood pressure.
Pregnant and nursing women should avoid Figwort Herbal Supplement. People with heart conditions should not use it without first consulting a physician, because it contains a cardioactive substance. Since Figwort may interfere with the absorption of nutrients, it is advisable not to take it with meals. Herbal Extracts Plus also advises use of this herb under the supervision of qualified practitioner.