The main active ingredient found in cicily is the essential oil that contains anethole, sesquiterpenes (germacrene-D, beta-caryophylllen), limonene, alpha-pinene, alpha-farnesene and myrcene.
In addition, the plant contains flavonoids (luteolin) and apigenin glycosides. It is the substance anethole that is responsible for the distinctive anise taste and the smell of the plant.
This substance is also found present in fennel, anise and star anise.
Cicely as a Medicinal Plant
Cicely is rarely used in modern herbal medicine but has been valued as a medicinal herb in folk medicine for a long time.
The herb has great nutritional value and is supposedly good for digestion. The fruits, roots or leaves have been used to enhance appetite, as a mild disinfectant, and to reduce the formation of intestinal gas.
In old herbal medicine books it is stated that the roots and leaves can been given as a general tonic for the elderly, and extracts of the herb could also counteract anemia in adolescent girls.
In earlier times, the herb was considered an effective “blood purifier” and an ointment made from the root was applied to all kinds of wounds to promote healing.
Additionally, cicely was used during the Middle Ages as protection against the plague and a decoction made from the root was applied as a treatment for snakes bites.
The herb has a weak diuretic and laxative properties. Furthermore, it is thought to have an expectorant and antispasmodic effect and is considered to have blood pressure lowering properties.
Cicely has been used traditionally as a treatment for a cough, asthma and shortness of breath due to various lung ailments and the dried leaves were sometimes smoked in the same way as tobacco to promote expectoration of phlegm.
An extract made from the roots and seeds has been used for the treatment of a sore throat and chest pain, as well as a remedy for bladder problems.
In folk medicine, the crushed fresh leaves were used as an external remedy for pain associated with gout and rheumatism. An herbal tea was also made from the leaves to promote sleep.
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