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Lomatium dissectum

topic posted Sat, April 22, 2006 - 7:38 PM by  PuckerButt
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What can you folks tell me about Lomatium dissectum, also known as Biscuit Root? I did a monograph on it, so I know something already, but I'm sure there is more and that one or more of you guys know it. I know it is under-researched, native to the Pacific Northwest, was used for food, kept people alive during the flu epidemic of 1918, and contains a chemical called suksdorfin (no kidding!!) that may have anti-HIV properties. Can anyone elaborate?
posted by:
PuckerButt
Seattle
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  • It tastes like parsley.. I have found it to have a really good flavor.. It grows wild around here..

    Here's some info on it from a site on the net.. just type in Lomatium dissectum and you get a ton of info concerning what it does.. what it can do if taken by the wrong people.. How the Natives used it.. etc.. I found lots of info concerning this plant.. The only interaction I've had with it is to eat it and use it medicinally..

    Botanical synonyms: Leptotaenia dissecta

    Common names: Lomatium, Fern-leaved Desert Parsley, Biscuit root.

    Similar species: The Lomatium genus contains over 80 species, many of which are used more or less interchangeably, including L. triternatum (Narrow-leaved Desert Parsley), L. nudicaule (Indian Consumption Plant), and L. montanum (Biscuitroot).

    Plant description: Lomatium is a robust perennial herb with a distinctly spicy fragrance. Several hollow stems between 50-150 cm arise from taproots, the bases of the stem having a purplish hue. The thick root is irregularly shaped with many knobs and protuberances, epidermis grey, cortex white and fleshy. The leaves are mostly basal and finely dissected, almost fernlike. The tiny flowers are borne on long stalks in umbrella-shaped umbels 8-10 cm across, yellow to deep purple in color. The fruits are oblong to elliptic seeds, with flattened backs and broad wings.

    Habitat, ecology and distribution: L. dissectum can be found scattered in dense colonies at low to mid elevations in temperate to arid regions of western NA, from southern BC and Alberta to Colorado, preferring arid basins and dry plateaus. Other similar species such as L. montanum can be sound further to the east, in Wyoming and Montana.

    Part used: Root.

    History: Lomatium is an exceptionally important and highly regarded plant in First Nations medicine, but appears to have escaped the notice of the physiomedicalists and Eclectics. It is difficult to imagine how this occurred, considering that other equally important and useful First Nations plants such as Echinacea and Goldenseal were identified fairly early on. The relatively recent popularity of Lomatium is due in part to academic research conducted by ethnobotanists over the last century, by herbalists that apprenticed with First Nations healers, and from clinical experimentation in naturopaths circles in the Pacific Northwest. Lomatium first attracted the attention of the medical community when it was shown to be effected in treatment an influenza epidemic in the Great Basin area during the 1920's (Bergner 2001, 231). Although it is considered to be an important medicinal plant by many First Nations groups, Lomatium has important food and ritual uses as well. Many groups, such as the Nlaka’pmx and Okanagan dug the roots in early spring and cooked them in a pit until soft (Turner et al 1990, 154; Perry 1952, 37). When peeled, split and dried the roots can be pounded into flour to make biscuits, hence its common name ‘Biscuitroot.’ The young shoots and leaves are also said to be edible, cooked as a pot herb and used by some as a relish with meat (Gifford 1966, 49; Turner et al 1980, 66). Although older, more mature plant parts however were considered inedible by both humans and livestock, the seeds are described as being used as a food (Chamberlin 1911, 369). First Nations groups in Nevada pulverized the root and smoked it for pleasure (Fowler 1989, 129), and used it to treat horses for distemper (McClintock and Walter 1909, 274). Lomatium was also used as a ceremonial agent and was highly regarded for its spiritual potency, burned by the Blackfoot as an incense, and taken internally by Navaho dancers for the ‘mountain top dance’ (McClintock and Walter 1909; Elmore 1944, 67).

    Constituents: Moore lists a variety of plant chemicals, none of which have been studied all that well, including an essential oil, gums, resins, and resinoids. VanWagenen et al have reported the presence of three coumarin glycosides, one which contains apiose, a sugar that is uncommon in the coumarins. Moore also mentions the presence of an “antibiotic tetronic acid,” as well as luteolin, luvangetin and a furanocoumarins (Moore 1993, 169; VanWagenen et al 1988). The plant is also reputed to contain appreciable levels of ascorbic acid.

    Medical Research:
    •Antiviral: A Lomatium dissectum root extract was found to completely inhibit the cytopathic effects of rotavirus, in vitro (McCutcheon et al 1995). Suksdorfin isolated from the fruit of Lomatium suksdorfii was found to be able to inhibit HIV-1 replication in the T cell line, in vitro (Lee et al 1994).

    Toxicity: Turner et al reports that the Okanagan-Colville First Nations considered the purple shoots, mature roots and tops, as well as strong aqueous preparations of Lomatium to be toxic (1980, 66). This however is mentioned nowhere else in the ethnobotanical record.

    Herbal action: antiviral, antimicrobial, immunostimulant, adaptogen
    Indications: colds, flus, sore throat, pharyngitis, tracheitis, tonsillitis, strep throat, bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, immunodeficiency, viral hepatitis, convalescence

    Contraindications and cautions: May cause a hive like rash in apparently sensitive individuals. The mechanism of the response is not known but does not appear to be allergic. Michael Moore postulates that the effect may be from excess immunostimulation or represent a viral die-off response (1993, 171). Thus, Moore states that Lomatium is best used along with diaphoretic herbs to prevent this response, but I have seen one case where the rash erupted irregardless. The rash, which is otherwise benign and painless, in most people dissipates after a few days to a few weeks, but in some individuals can last up to six months or more. John Bastyr notes that the appearance of the rash is a sign to lower the dose of the herb rather than to discontinue it (Bergner 2001, 231).

    Medicinal uses: As a medicine, Lomatium was considered to be a powerful healing agent by First Nations healers, and was used for a wide variety of complaints. As a springtime remedy, the Okanagan-Collville used Lomatium as an alterative to prepare for the heat of summer (Turner et al 1980, 66). Lomatium was used as a treatment for sore throat by the Paiute of Nevada, and a decoction of the roots was used as an inhalation and for internal usage in the treatment of colds and flus by the Great Basin peoples (Fowler 1989, 129; Nickerson 1966, 49). Lomatium was considered an important remedy in the treatment of tuberculosis and lung diseases such as asthma by several First Nations groups, including the Nez Perce of Montana, the Okanagan-Colville, the Great Basin, the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washo peoples (Hart 1992, 26; Turner et al 1980, 66, Nickerson 1966, 49; Train et al 1941, 97-100). In the treatment of venereal disease Lomatium root was taken both internally and applied externally by the Paiute (Fowler 1989, 129; Fowler 1989, 129). As an adaptogen, Lomatium was used by the Blackfoot to assist in weight gain and to assist in healing during convalescence (McClintock and Walter 1909, 274). In the treatment of digestive disorders the Cheyenne drank an infusion of the pulverized roots (Grinnell 1972, 182). In the treatment of compound fractures, including those that had become infected, the Gosiute applied a poultice of the roots to the affected area (Chamberlin 1911, 384). In more recent times, Lomatium has come to be used as an important remedy in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, both viral and bacterial in origin. It can be used as a preventative during epidemics and outbreaks, and as a first line treatment to halt the progression of a cold, in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis, and in severe states of immunodeficiency. For this reason, and with support from preliminary experimental evidence that shows Lomatium may have an anti-HIV activity, Lomatium can be used as an adjunct in the treatment of AIDS and ARC. As a topical remedy, Lomatium is an excellent antimicrobial agent, used in periodontal disease as a mouth rinse, as a fomentation or bath for skin infections, and as a douche for Candida and Gardnerella infections (Moore 1993, 171). Some practitioners have also found that Lomatium may be helpful in the various forms of viral hepatitis, as an antiviral and perhaps more importantly an adaptogenic alternative to the deadly combination therapies of interferon and ribavirin.

    Pharmacy and dosage:.
    •Fresh Plant Tincture: fresh plant, 1:2, 95% alcohol, 10-30 gtt
    •Dry Plant Tincture: recently dried root, 1:5, 70% alcohol, 10-30 gtt
    •Hot Infusion, Decoction: recently dried root, 1:20, 30-90 mL
    • Thank you, Gypsi Star, for giving me your time and for the wealth of information!! I have been using it successfully for colds this year and will stockpile some in case the bird-flu situation comes to pass as feared (I hope I never need it). I got mine at Friends of the Trees
      online. Unsolicited Testimonial : I have been very satisfied with the quality of their ethically harvested products and fast service. Michael Pilarski is a great guy.
      • I am so lucky.. I just go out in the woods and pick it myself. It grows wild around here. Where I live there are so many medicinal herbs... its amazing.

        We have cowparsnip, coltsfoot, devils claw, yarrow in abundance, plantain, mullein (great for upper respiratory) mallow (common) and numerous others.. probably well over a hundred species. Those are the medicinal ones.. Oh yea.. wild grape which the root has as much berberine in it as goldenseal so can be used instead of Golden Seal which is in short supply but the wild grape root isn't. It has different properties as well, but still is incredibly beneficial for the immune system.
        • Gypsi, I have been getting berberine from Oregon Grape roots (Mahonia aquifolium). It's always good to know of other sources. thank you for your valuable information. You are a treasure trove!!

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