The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Polygonum bistortia L.
  • Polygonaceae
  • Buckwheat family

Common Names

  • Dragonwort
  • Easter giant
  • English serpentary
  • Osterick
  • Passions
  • Patience dock
  • Red legs
  • Snakeweed
  • Sweet dock

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Parts Usually Used

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Bistort is a mountain perennial; The rootstock is thick, knobby, twisted into an S or double-S shape, up to 3 feet long, black on the outside and red on the inside, and ringed with old leaf scars. The basal leaves are bluish-green, long-petioled, and oblong-lanceolate. The few leaves on the simple, glabrous stem are lanceolate to linear, short-petioled to sessile, and have a dry leaf sheath at the base. The red to rose-colored flowers are borne in a dense, spike-like raceme, appearing from May to August.
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Where Found

Found at higher elevations west of the Rocky Mountains and in Europe, in damp soil such as wet meadows and streambanks.
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Medicinal Properties

Alterative, astringent, diuretic, styptic
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Biochemical Information

Up to 20% tannins
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Bistort is an excellent remedy for diarrhea, even for bloody diarrhea, cholera, and dysentery. The decoction can also be used as a mouthwash for gum problems, canker sores, and for inflammations of the mouth (stomatitis), and as a wash for external sores, wounds, ulcers, and hemorrhage (or use the rootstock to make a poultice). When directly applied to a wound, the powder will stop the bleeding. Once used to resist all poison, the plague, jaundice, pimples, insect bites, snakebites, gonorrhea, smallpox, measles and expels worms. Externally, helps relieve bruises.

Second to none to soothe sore throats. While most antibiotics kill germs good and bad, this herb removes all local discomfort and lets the body fight its own battle.

It is often claimed that bistort will heal internal ulcers. Since new research has discovered internal ulcers are caused by an organism, perhaps there is something to the claim.
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Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: use about 2 tsp. rootstock with 1 cup of water. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Take 1 cup a day.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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