Bistort has several common names: snakeweed, poor man’s cabbage, snakeroot, oderwort, meadow bistort, adderwort, osterick, and pink pokers.


This species is native to Northern Europe, occurring in Siberia, Japan, Western Asia, and the Himalayas. It is common in the north of England and southern Scotland, grows in moist meadows, nutrient-rich wooded swamps, forest edges, wetlands, parks, gardens, and disturbed ground.


It can grow up to 1 meter in height. The roots are fleshy and cylindrical. Primary leaves are oval or pointed and dark green, and the seeds are shiny, dark brown, and triangular.

Part used

All parts of the plant can be used for medicinal purposes. The rootstock is gathered in March when the leaves begin to shoot and dried.


Traditional Uses and benefits

Bistort has astringents, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-catarrhal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Its root is one of the most potent astringents, styptic medicine, that can be used to stop external or internal bleedings.

It is proven excellent in diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and all bowel complaints and hemorrhages from the lungs and stomach.

It is used – as medicine and gargle – in mucous discharges.

Traditionally, bistort root decoction is also useful as an injection in excess of menstruation and leukorrhoea and is a useful wash in ulcerated mouth and gums and as a gargle. It may also be applied to ulcers to soothe the skin and provide a moist feeling.

Dosage and Precautions:

It is used medicinally in the form of decoction and tincture.

To prepare a decoction from bistort, add one teaspoonful of the dried herb to 250 ml of water for 10-15 minutes and then strain the liquid. You can drink twice a day.

The recommended dosage for a tincture is 1 to 3 ml three times daily.

Warning: There are no reports of contraindications or side effects, but large doses may irritate the digestive tract, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.



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