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Saturday, May 26, 2012

BUCKBEAN OR BOGBEAN, USED FOR RHEUMATISM IN THE PAST: - HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF BOGBEAN OR BUCKBEAN


BUCKBEAN OR BOG BEAN, MENYANTHOS TRIFOLIATA
This plant has attractive white flowers with hairs on their petals. As its names suggest, it lives in marshy of boggy places and is native to Europe, including the UK, and also to north and Central Asia and to Morocco in North Africa. It is also called bog myrtle, marsh trefoil, water shamrock, bitter trefoil, marsh clover, bitterworm, brook bean, bean trefoil and moonflower. It is now a member of the Menyanthaceae family although formerly it was classed as one of the Gentianaceae.
   It is one of those plants which is a single species in its genus, and these include the Yellow bird’s nest, rock samphire, the wood apple and the Monkey Hand Tree.
The plant contains flavonoids, such as kaempferol, quercetin, hyperin and rutin, flavonoid glycosides, and anthraquinone derivatives including emodin, aloe-emodin and chrysophanol, among other substances and compounds.
   In the past this bogbean or buckbean was used for a variety of ailments, including as a tonic after a wasting or debilitating disease, and was administered in cases of rheumatism and arthritis, for glandular swellings, and as a diuretic. The caffeic and ferrulic acids contained in this plant may make it a bile stimulator and this would explain its use as a digestive herb and the effect it has of helping to put on weight.  However it has been most used in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.
 It has been found to be have anti-inflammatory properties and seems to have a beneficial effect on the kidneys “Anti-inflammatory studies of Menyanthes trifoliata related to the effect shown against renal failure in rats” H Tuná»›n and L. Bohler in Phytomedicine Vol 2 (2) pp.105-112. Extracts of the pant have also shown some antibacterial properties. It may also make for a good analgesic (mild pain-killer).
 It has been used in combination with other herbs in an infusion for rheumatism, combined with black cohosh and celery seeds. The tisane can be used alone, and is made with one ounce of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water. Leave this to steep for 15 minutes before straining and drinking in small, wineglass full doses. For one cup use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb and remember it is a diuretic. Externally this tisane can be applied to glandular swellings. The finely powdered leaves have been used as a remedy for fevers, and the expressed juice from fresh leaves has been used for skin problems. Mixed with whey from milk, it has been used as a cure for gout.
  Large doses of this can be a purgative, but small doses make it a useful laxative. However it should not be used if you have colitis or diarrhea because of this property. The dried leaves have been an ingredient of British Herbal tobacco.                                                              
  John Gerard remarked that “taken with mead or honied water it is of use against a cough.” He further explained the bean part of the name in this way saying that the leaves are “like to those of the garden beane.”
  The genus name, “Menyanthos” comes from the Greek for month- meeni and anthos meaning flower. However the plant is in flower from May through to the end of July, so flowers are not seen only for one month as its name suggests. “Trifoliata” means three leaved.
  Another herbal remedy, said to stimulate the liver to function properly and used in cases of jaundice in the past is buckbean tisane with the leaves being combined with common wormwood, centaury, or sage.
Yet another remedy, this time for ophthalmia – red or sore eyes- was a remedy from the American herbalist, Dr. John R Christopher (1909-1983) .You combine ½ ounce of raspberry leaves, agrimony, eyebright, and buckbean or bogbean leaves in two pints of water and simmer the herbs for 20 minutes in a pan with a lid covering it.  Then strain the decoction, sweeten it with honey and take 2 fluid ounces 4 times a day.
  In Devon in the 19th century, children would sing the following rhyme, as a plea to Puck or Robin Goodfellow, a mischievous imp who delighted in turning the milk sour and got up to all kinds of tricks ( Puck in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare) not to tease or torment them. As they were going through alleyways in the dark they would sing or recite the following rhyme:-                                                                         
   “Buckee, Buckee, biddy Bene
     Is the way now fair and clean?                                                          
     Is the goosey gone to nest,
     And the foxy gone to rest?
     Shall I come away?”
It was once believed that “Buckee” and “biddy Bene” referred to the Buck bean, but in fact it doesn’t. Buckee was Puck and bidden was Anglo-Saxon for ask or pray. It was an imprecation to Puck and not to the bogbean or buck bean.
  Cats like this plant, as they do catnip and Greek Valerian- so watch out for feline visitors if you plant this in your garden.
    The root from this bitter herb is edible, but only as famine food, as it has to be leached before it is edible, and it still tastes bitter.
  Because of the lack of scientific evidence, it is not advisable to use this herb, especially if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

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