Culver's Root

Scientific Name(s): Veronicastrum virginicum (L.) Farw. Syn: V. sibiricum L. Pennell, V. sibirica L., Leptandra virginica (Nutt.). Fam: Scrophulariaceae

Common Name(s): Black root , black culver's root , culveris root , culvers physic , physic root , bowman's root , brinton root , hini , leptandra , leptandra-wurzel , oxadody , tall speedwell , tall veronica whorlywort 1 , 2 , 3

Uses

Black culver's root has been used as a liver tonic, for liver or gallbladder disorders, and to promote bile flow. It has also been used for various GI problems; however, no studies are available to confirm these uses.

Dosing

There are no recent clinical studies of culver's root that provide a basis for dosage recommendations. Classical dosage was 1 g of the rhizome.

Contraindications

Avoid using with bile duct obstruction, gallstones, internal hemorrhoids, menstruation, and pregnancy.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

No health hazards have been associated with proper administration. Avoid using with bile duct obstruction, gallstones, internal hemorrhoids, menstruation, and pregnancy.

Toxicology

No data.

Botany

Culver's root is a tall, herbaceous perennial consisting of a simple, erect stem growing from approximately 0.9 to 2 m tall. Whorled leaves (from 4 to 7) terminate in spikes of white flowers approximately 8 to 25 cm long, which bloom in July through August. The purple flower variety is termed Leptandra purpurea . Native to North America, but growing elsewhere, black culver's root prefers meadows and rich woodlands. The medicinal parts of the plant include the dried rhizome with the roots. 2 , 3 This plant was assigned by Linnaeus to the genus Veronica , but later was put in genus Leptandra by Nuttall, which is now used by present-day botanists. A revision of the genus is needed. 1 , 2 , 3

History

The first documented use of culver's root was when Puritan leader Cotton Mather requested it as a remedy for his daughter's tuberculosis in 1716. Culver's root was used by early physicians as a powerful laxative and emetic. Native American tribes also used the plant and drank tea preparations to induce vomiting and to help cleanse the blood. Herbalists have used culver's root for its ability to increase the flow of bile from the liver. 2

Chemistry

Chemical analysis studies report constituents from genus Veronicastrum and Veronica , 4 and the presence of aucubin from Veronica species. 5 Culver's root is known to contain volatile oil, cinnamic acid derivatives (such as 4-methoxy cinnamic acid, 3,4-dimethoxycinnamic acid and their esters), tannins, and bitter principle leptandrin. 1 , 3 Asian studies involving Veronicastrum sibiricum list the constituents mannitol, resin, gum, phytosterols, glycoside, and saponins as also being present in the plants. 6 , 7 , 8 , 9

Uses and Pharmacology

Black culver's root has been used for years as a liver tonic, for liver or gallbladder disorders, and to promote bile flow. Culver's root is also a stomach tonic, aiding in digestion. It is used both for diarrhea and chronic constipation, and hemorrhoids as well. 1 , 2 , 3

Animal data

Anti-ulcer activity in rats given related species Veronica officinalis L. has been demonstrated. 10

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of black culver's root for its listed uses.

Dosage

There are no recent clinical studies of culver's root that provide a basis for dosage recommendations. Classical dosage was 1 g of the rhizome.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

No health hazards have been associated with proper administration. Avoid using with bile duct obstruction, gallstones, internal hemorrhoids, menstruation, and pregnancy. 11

Toxicology

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of this product.

Bibliography

1. Hocking G. A Dictionary of Natural Products . Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, Inc. 1997;438, 846.
2. Dwyer J, Rattray D, eds. Magic and Medicine of Plants . Pleasantville, NY: The Reader's Digest Assoc., Inc. 1986;156.
3. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/blaroo53.html
4. Swiatek L. Aucubin content in medicinal plants from Veronica species. Acta Pol Pharm 1968;25(6):597-600. [Polish.]
5. Shimada H, et al. Studies on the constituent of plants of genus Pedicularis , Veronicastrum , and Veronica . Yakugaku Zasshi 1971;91(1):137-38. [Japanese.]
6. Lee S, et al. Chemical components of the root of Veronicastrum sibiricum Pennell. Saengyak Hakhoechi 1987;18(3):168-76.
7. Zhou B, et al. Chemical constituents of Veronicastrum sibiricum (L.) Pennell. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 1992;17(1):35-6, 64.
8. Zhou B, et al. Determination of the active constituent in Veronicastrum sibiricum (L.) Pennell. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 1992;17(2):102-03, 127. [Chinese.]
9. Lin W, et al. Structures of new cinnamoyl glucoside from the roots of Veronicastrum sibiricum . Yaoxue Xuebao 1995;30(10):752-56.
10. Scarlat M, et al. Experimental anti-ulcer activity of Veronica officinalis L. extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 1985;13(2):157-63.
11. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998.

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