Figwort is a perennial herbaceous plant the blooms in May-September. It is gray-brown, without a specific smell, but with a distinct, bitter taste.
It can be found in the northern hemisphere, near roads, moist, shady areas and forests, up to altitudes of 3280 ft (1000 m). In traditional and folk medicine, the rhizomes along with the tubers are used.
Figwort's rhizomes are taken out during the fall, in the months of September-October. They are best dried in the shade.
The herb is most often used for its anti-inflammatory effects. It is used to treat swollen lymph nodes and sore throat, hemorrhoids, scrofula and goiters. Topically, it is applied for hemorrhoids, all kinds of skin inflammations and diseases, boils, reddening, freckles and others.
For internal treatment, prepare a figwort concoction. To make it, put 1 teaspoon of finely chopped figwort roots in 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) of water. Boil for 5 minutes, then strain. Take 3 1/3 tbsp (50 ml) 3 times a day, before your main meals.
The concoction can be used, besides for throat problems such as swollen glands and inflamed tonsils, for deep abscesses and lymphedema and as a "yin" tonic. In China it's mixed with salt.
Intake of the plant should only occur under medical supervision. Large doses of it are toxic. It must not be taken by people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and arrhythmias, since it is a powerful cardiac stimulant.
Besides the roots, the leaves of the plant are also used in folk medicine. They are used for removal of toxins, especially in lymphatic disorders, rheumatism, as well as for psoriasis or eczema.
Tinctures of the leaves are taken in combination with other herbs that aid digestion. They are recommended for constipation and sluggish bowels. When combined with herbs such as dock, hound's berry or burdock, it is applied for treating various skin conditions.
Painful swelling, ulcers and wounds, are covered with compresses soaked in the infusion. For eczema, skin inflammation and fungal infections, lavages are used.