Rupturewort contains coumarins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, triterpenoid saponins, tannins and essential oil.
The first mention of the plant as a medicinal herb is from the 1500’s and it was used for centuries as a diuretic agent in the treatment of chronic cystitis and urethritis.
It was also used traditionally as a treatment for ailments of the upper respiratory tract, arthritis, rheumatism and as a “blood cleansing” agent.
The genus name Herniaria comes from the Latin word “hernia” because it was believed that the herb could cure a hernia. This belief is also reflected in the English common name of the plant “rupturewort”.
Most of the plant’s healing abilities are probably due the substances saponins and flavonoids. The herb does have diuretic and slightly astringent (contracting) properties and has a mild anticonvulsive and disinfectant effect on the urinary tract.
Rupturewort is still used by some herbalist to treat urinary symptoms such as cystitis, urethritis, and to prevent the formation of kidney stones and kidney gravel.
The pharmacological effects and the potential therapeutic usefulness of the herb in the treatment of urinary tract disease have not yet been proven or documented by scientific studies.
The herb is sometimes used as a poultice to accelerate healing of sores and wounds because of its astringent properties.
The disadvantage of using the herb in herbal medicine is that it loses its medicinal effect when it is dried and should preferably only be used fresh.
Additionally, the active ingredients found in the plant are quite volatile, so the herb should not be put in boiling water when it is used in herbal teas.
This is the opposite of the herb bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), which has a similar effect on the urinary tract but must be boiled for a certain time to release the active substance.
Therefore these two herbs should not be mixed together in tea intended as a treatment for urinary tract disorders, although that is often done.