Common figwort contains amino acids, flavonoids, phenolic acids (ferulic acid, vanillic acid, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid), saponins, cardiac glycoside, phytosterols, essential fatty acids, and asparagine.
The scientific Genus name, Scrophularia, comes from the plant’s traditional use as a remedy for scrofula, a tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes in the neck.
This use was due to the resemblance of the bulbous shape of the plant’s rhizomes to swollen glands which is explained by “doctrine of signatures”, a philosophy shared by herbalists from the time of Galen (130 — 200 AD).
This doctrine states that a herb that resembles a specific body part could also be used to treat ailments afflicting it.
In the Middle Ages, the herb was thought to be one of the best medicinal plants to treat swellings and tumors.
Common figwort is considered as a good diuretic and “blood cleansing” herb that also has mild laxative and analgesic properties and a stimulating effect on the liver, heart and blood circulation.
Today the herb is primarily used for its cleansing and detoxifying properties. It is believed to stimulate the lymphatic system, and is used externally for chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis and also to treat itching and hemorrhoids.
Additionally, it is used for inflamed and swollen lymph glands and poor blood circulation.
In the treatment of skin disorders the herb is often used in combination with yellow dock (Rumex crispus).
The herb can be used as a gentle laxative to treat constipation. Common figwort contains the substance aucubin, an iridoid glycoside, which has a mild laxative effect and increases the renal excretion of uric acid.
The compounds harpagoside and harpagid found in the herb are thought to have the ability to soothe joint pain. The same compounds can be found in devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
Common figwort has sometimes been used traditionally as an [easyazon_link identifier=”B00N6M604O” locale=”US” tag=”herbal-resource-20″]herbal tea[/easyazon_link] to treat the common cold and is often mixed with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), or peppermint (Mentha x piperita pipe).
There is some indication that common figwort could be effective against some types of cancers. Whether this is the case is too early to say and more research is needed to confirm this.