|Common name: Lovage
Botanical description: A herbaceous perennial growing up to 2 m. The leaves are glossy with a toothed margin and are compound. The green/yellow flowers are held in umbels. The seeds are small and black. Realed species are Scots Lovage Ligusticum scoticum, Chinese Lovage Ligusticum sinense, Osha Ligusticum porteri
Parts used: Root and rhizome, leaves and seeds
Harvesting, cultivation and habitat: Native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia. In the wild it grows on sunny mountainsides. It is also widely cultivated. The leaves are gathered throughout the growing season; the seeds are gathered in late summer and the roots are harvested in the autumn
History and folklore, Taste/energetics: The leaves are used to flavour soups and stews. A particularly interesting soup can be made from lettuce and lovage; however, do not use too much it has a strong flavour. It’s taste is salty, bitter, slightly warm. Lovage is closely related to osha, a native of Northern America and has many similarities therapeutically. Tradition has it that when bears emerge from hibernation in the spring they seek out osha plants and dig up the roots to get their digestion and excretion working again (during hibernation they do not eat or excrete). The bear has long been perceived as symbolizing the medicine person. Osha and lovage are really valuable for those who have retreated deep into the cave to process and do inner work and need to get their appetite for the ordinary world, for material food back. Lovage helps us reconnect with the Earth and our physical being when we have journeyed through a dark night of the soul.
Constituents: Volatile oil (including about 70% phthalides), Coumarins (including bergapten, psoralen and umbelliferone), Alkynes, Plant acids, Sterols, Resins, Gums
Actions: Carminative, Anti-dyspeptic, Digestive tonic, Spasmolytic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Antimicrobial
Traditional and current uses:
Contraindications: Avoid medicinal doses in pregnancy and in kidney disease
Use the leaves finely chopped in salads. It is added to chicken dishes, soups and as part of the stock when boiling ham. The seeds are used in bread, and cheese biscuits and game casseroles.
Lovage leaves have also been added to the bath as a deodorant. The root is used to prepare decoctions or tinctures for a stronger medicinal effect than the leaf and seeds.