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Did you know that False Yellowhead treats wounds and makes a great bath soak?
Author of, Weeds For Health On Gozo, Heléna Szöllősy shares everything you need to know about the wild plants that make up Gozo’s unique and diverse flora. Enjoy learning about the healing benefits and many usages of False Yellowhead which grows on Gozo from August to November.
Dittrichia viscosa – L
Botanical Name: Dittrichia viscosa - L. Synonyms: Erigeron viscosus, Cupularia viscosa, Chrysocoma saxatilis, Conyza major, Inula viscosa Family Name: Asteraceae or Compositae Maltese Name: Tulliera komuni Common Names: False Yellowhead, Aromatic Inula, Sticky Fleabane, Woody Fleabane, Yellow Fleabane Meaning of the Name: Dittrichia, named for the German botanist Manfred Dittrich (1934- ), viscosa, from Latin, sticky, clammy; referring mainly to the sticky exudate from the glandular hairs. Inula, from Helen of Troy, being fabled to have sprung up from the ground where her tears were supposed to have fallen.
False yellowhead is a sturdy perennial shrub that grows in the wild around the Mediterranean basin. It is an aromatic plant that disperses the smell of camphor. The leaves and stems of the plant are coated with a sticky resin secreted from glandular hairs growing on the surface of the leaves. One plant can produce many yellow flower heads each with as many as 16 ray florets and 44-disc florets.
On Gozo, it flowers from August to November. The longer period of exposure to pathogenic attacks during the hot summer is postulated to selectively enhance the local plant’s production of defensive phytochemicals. The increased UV protection of the leaf is made possible by the release of the resin on the leaf’s surface.
- Habitats: Waste places, dry riverbeds, abandoned fields, roadsides
- Range: Europe – Mediterranean, North Africa, West Asia
- Status for Malta: Indigenous. Originating from Maltese islands. Very common in the wild.
- Parts Used: flowering branches, leaves
- Herbal Actions: Antipyretic, Antidiabetic, Antiphlogistic, Antiviral, Antifungal, Antibacterial, Antiseptic
- Main Active Constituents: bioflavonoids, carotenoids, essential oil, lipids, saponins, starch, sterols, triterpenoids as free alcohols, fatty acid esters, monoterpenes, oxygenated sesquiterpene compounds (tomentosin) sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, oxygenated aromatic compounds,
- Dittrichia viscosa has been used in folk medicine and is of major interest to many pharmaceutical industries. It has been regarded for centuries as one of the most effective medicinal plants in the Mediterranean region. Traditionally is used to treat infections, inflammations, and fever.
- Extracts from the plant display anti-inflammatory activity and free radical-generating systems. It has antiulcerogenic and abortive effects.
- Flowering branches boiled in oil, used for bronchitis, tuberculosis, anaemia, astringent, fattening, for malaria and diseases of the urinary system,
- It is recommended to use Inula leaves for the treatment of scurvy, a tonic prepared from the leaves is used to treat hangovers after heavy drinking.
- The plant is considered by the Arab peasants as one of the five best herbs for the treatment of diabetes and blood pressure reduction as an infusion from fresh leaves.
- The roots are used against cough and catarrh, as an antiseptic and expectorant, which loosens phlegm and supports mucus membranes.
- From ancient times it has been used to treat wounds, injuries, and bruises.
- It can also cure skin diseases (e.g., oedemas and chronic dermatitis) and external skin irritations due to acute anti-inflammatory activity. It is also effective in wound healing.
- The antimycotic activity of the plant extract against dermatophytes and candidiasis is used for the treatment of swollen or bleeding gums.
- The oil is rubbed on bruises and swelling, cataplasm for rheumatic pains.
- Powdered and mixed with henna leaves, a cataplasm is also used for sunstroke. A paste of leaf powder is used for arthritis and haemorrhoids treatment.
- Bathing in leaves infusion as a treatment for arthritis and joints pain.
- A yellow dye is obtained from the roots.
- Bathing in the leaf’s infusion can help arthritis and joint pain. Add 200 grams of Inula viscosa leaves that have been boiled for five minutes. The infusion is filtered and added to a bath of warm water for a 30-minute soak.
- The constituents of essential oil borneol, bornyl and isobornyl acetates are valuable ingredients in perfumery and pharmacy.
PRECAUTIONS: Skin contact with False Yellowhead can cause allergic reactions in humans. Side effects of drinking the strong infusion from fresh leaves is enhanced urination and running stomach.
Want to learn what else you can forage on Gozo? Click here.
Author : Heléna Szöllősy. Editor: GITH
Helena is an expert on the medicinal properties of plants having trained in Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy, specialising in Phytotherapy including Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Apitherapy and Bach Flower Therapy.
Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs are provided in this book for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace professional medical care. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs. Please also undertake your own research when foraging. Some wild plants are endangered and are protected by law.