GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A perennial herb with a simple stem up to 1 metre high, with finely dissected leaves giving a lacy appearance, bearing numerous pinky-white, dense flowerheads.
DISTRIBUTION: Native to Eurasia; naturalised in North America. Now found in most temperate zones of the world. The oil is mainly distilled in Germany, Hungary, France and Yugoslavia, also the USA and Africa.
HERBAL/FOLK TRADTIOIN: An age-old herbal medicine used for a wide variety of complaints including fever, respiratory infections, digestive problems, nervous tension and externally for sores, rashes and wounds. Its use in the teratment of wounds is said to go back to Achilles who used it for injuries inflicted by iron weapons. It is used in China mainly for menstrual problems and haemorrhoids. In Norway it is also used for rheumatism. The stalks are traditionally used for divination in the I Ching, the Chinese classic. It is current in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia as a specific for thrombotic conditions with hypertension.
ACTIONS: Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, diaphoretic, digestive, expectorant, haemostatic, hypotensive, stomachic, tonic. Essential oil by steam distillation from the dried herb.
CHARACTERISTICS: A dark blue liquid with fresh, green, sweet-herbaceous, slightly camphoraceous odour. It blends well with cedarwood, pine, chamomile, valerian, vetiver and oakmoss.
PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: Azulene (up to 40 per cent), pinenes, caryophyllene, borneol, terpineol, cineol, bornyl acetate, camphor, sabinene and thujone, among others. Constituents, especially azulene levels, vary according to source.
SAFETY DATA: Non-toxic, non-irritant, possible sensitisation in some individuals.
AROMATHERAPY/HOME USE: Skin care: Acne, burns, cuts, eczema, hair rinse(promotes hair growth), inflammations, rashes, scars, tones the skin, varicose veins, wounds. Circulations, muscles and joints: Arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, thrombosis. Digestive system: Constipation, cramp, flatulence, haemorrhoids, indigestion. Genito-urinary system: Amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, cystitis and other infections. Immune system: Colds, fever, ‘flu, etc. Nervous system: Hypertension, insomnia, stress-related conditions.
OTHER USES: Occasionally used in pharmaceutical bath preparations for skin conditions. Limited use in perfumes and aftershaves. Employed as a flavour ingredient in vermouths and bitters.