Aristolochia is an herbaceous plant which is found in warm European and Asiatic regions. It belongs to the Aristolochiaceae family and grows in forests and at the edges of fields and vineyards. Aristolochia has a long stem carrying alternating leaves and its fruit is a capsule.
Aristolochia is a toxic plant
The stem of aristolochia is harvested when it is in full flower. It is harvested by breaking the top part by hand. Because of its content of aristolochic acid it is used therapeutically after it has been dried. It also contains tanins, pigments and an alkaloid: aristolochin. These substances are believed to have an easing effect on cramps and relieve gastric, intestinal and respiratory pain. Aristolochia is used to treat various vascular problems and thromboses. A decoction is also used to treat various skin disorders such as wounds, ulcers oreczema.
Beware of the plant, however, as all parts of it are poisonous! At high doses it can cause diarrhoea or internal bleeding. You should also be aware if you are pregnant that aristolochia can trigger spontaneous miscarriage. The plant also causes irreversible kidney and liver damage. As a result, medical supervision is essential if you are prescribed it.
Ask your pharmacist for more information.
Source: Plantes médicinales, Gründ
Aristolochia, to be used with caution. © F. Le Driant / FloreAlpes.com