Scientific Name(S): Fumaria officinalis L. Family: Fumariaceae

Common Name(S): Fumitory, common fumitory, earth smoke

Fumitory is an herbal medicine used to treat eye infections and skin conditions, such as eczema (scaly, dry skin).

Botany: Fumitory is an annual plant of somewhat variable characteristics, often resembling a bush, but also observed as a low trailing shrub. It has gray pointed !eaves that, at a distance, give the plant a wispy appearance of smoke (hence its common name). The pinkpurple flower blooms in spring. The plant is widely dispersed and can be found in gardens, on slopes and in wastelands. The flowering plant has traditionally been used in herbal medicine.

History: Fumitory has been known since antiquity and was described in herbals from the Middle Ages. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat eczema and other dermatologic conditions. It also found use as a laxative and diuretic. Interest in the plant has undergone a resurgence in the past decade based on reports that extracts may be useful in the management of disorders of the cardiovascular system and hepatobiliary tract. The bulk of recent work with the plant has originated in France.

Uses of Fumitory

Fumitory has been traditionally used as a laxative, diuretic and treatment for dermatologic conditions such as eczema. Evidence suggests it benefits those with cardiovascular and hepatobiliary disorders.

Side Effects of Fumitory

Fumitory is not associated with significant toxicity, but large quantities of other members of the family have caused fatal outcomes

Preparations & Dosage : Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This may be drunk freely, but for skin problems it should be drunk at least three times daily.

Tincture: take l-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

Toxicology: Fumitory has not been associated with significant toxicity. In one clinical study no adverse events were reported. Alkaloids found in other members of the Fumariaceae (protopine and others) have been known to cause trembling, convulsions and death when consumed in large quantities.

Summary: Fumitory has a long history of use in traditional medicine and has been investigated for its therapeutic potential in the management of cardiovascular and hepatobiliary disorders. Preliminary animal and human data suggest that the plant has pharmacologic activity, which requires further elucidation. Fumitory has not been associated with significant toxicity.

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