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Polygala officinalis


Cough, bronchitis, catarrh of the respiratory system, emphysema (COPD/COAD) ...


Composition :
100% Polygala officinalis, in combination with other plant contents

Part used :

Milkwort (Polygala officinalis), also known as Snake Root, Senega Root or Mountain Flax, is a annual or bi-annual herb or shrub in the Parsley family (Polygalaceae), native to the forests of North America.

The plant reaches on average to 50 centimetres (20in) in height. A mature plant can have up to 70 stems growing from a hard, woody rootstock that spreads horizontally. The lance-shaped leaves are alternately arranged. The lower leaves are reduced and scale-like. The inflorescence is a spike of rounded white or greenish flowers. The fruit is a capsule containing two hairy black seeds. The root is twisted and conical, with a scent somewhat like wintergreen and a very pungent taste. There are two root morphs; a northern morph growing in Canada and towardMinnesota has larger roots up to 15 centimeters (8in) long by 1 cm (0.4in) wide which are dark brown and sometimes purplish toward the top, and a southern morph found in the southeastern United States that has smaller, yellow-brown roots.

The plants contains bioactive substances like saponin (senegin), phenolic acids, sorbitol derivatives, methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) and sterols. Milkwort is effective for treatment of bronchitis; the expectorant property comes from the irritation of mucous membranes by the saponins, which causes an increase in respiratory secretions and a decrease in their viscosity, giving a productive cough.

History: Milkwort had many uses among Native Americans. The Cherokee used it as a expectorant and a diuretic, and for inflammation, croup, and common cold. The Chippewa used preparations of the root to treat convulsions and bleeding wounds. The Cree chewed the root for sore throat and toothache. According to Canadian botanist Frère Marie-Victorin, the Seneca may have been inspired to use the tortuous root to treat snakebites by its resemblance to the tail of a rattlesnake.

The root was exported to Europe in the 1700s and was sold widely by pharmacists into the 1800s. It was marketed as a treatment for pneumonia. It is still in use as a herbal remedy, and ground and made into patent medicines, mainly remedies for respiratory complaints. It is added to cough syrups, teas, lozenges, and gargles.

Note: Milkwort is to be used in small doses only; overdose may cause vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. It is usually taken in combination with other plants having cough-related use.


Best used in combination with other herbs with stimulating properties (expectorants).