In ancient times, fumitory was regarded to have magical powers. The plant was burned in bonfires because it was believed that the smoke from the plant could protect against witchcraft and expel evil spirits.
According to an ancient legend, the plant first come to be, not from a seed, but from a vaporous smoke rising from the earth.
Medicinal Uses in Recent Times
Fumitory is not used to great extent in modern day herbal medicine but it still has some medicinal applications. The herb is regarded to have diaphoretic (sweat-inducing), diuretic and blood purifying properties.
Animal studies support some of the traditional use in humans and have shown that the herb may have a certain blood pressure lowering, slight diuretic, and laxative effect.
The herb is used as a tonic to increase appetite, and it is believed to stimulate the smooth muscles of the intestines and thus strengthen peristalsis. It is also used as a tea as an herbal remedy for intestinal parasites.
In addition, the herb is thought to promote the function of both the liver and the gallbladder and have an antispasmodic effect on the valve which opens and closes off the bile flow to the duodenum, thus normalizing the bile flow.
Therefore, it is sometimes used internally as a remedy for biliary colic (pain due to a gallstone temporarily blocking the bile duct) and migraine associated with digestive problems. In Germany, fumitory is approved for the treatment of biliary colic.