FAMILY  :        Polygonaceae  (Dock family)


Native of many parts of northern Europe.

PARTS USED :  root.


The leaves are an important ingredient of Easter Ledges Pudding, once considered a fertility food and still eatenin the Lake District. Also an ingredient in Dock pudding, along with dandelion leaves and nettles, which has become part of the traditional cookery of Yorkshire. During the Second World War, so great was the fame of bistort that Lord Haw Haw announced over the air that the food situation was so critical in Yorkshire that people were reduced to eating grass. The name bistort originates from the twice-twisted nature of the root.

Bistort is one of the strongest vegetable astringents and is highly styptic (stems blood flow.  It can be used to

treat diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and all bowel complaints and haemorrhages from the lungs and stomach. It is an effective remedy for nose bleeds and haemorrhoids. It is also used to treat mucous discharges. Used with

bitter herbs to treat fevers. It was said to possess a powerful ability to resist all poison and was once used in the treatment of smallpox, measles, jaundice and gonorrhoea.

Bistort is excellent for gargles and as a mouth wash for sore gums and for the clearing of pimples and stings. It is also an old country cure for toothache. It was recommended by the ancients to prevent miscarriages and as a birth plant.

The tannin from the plant has been used in the making of leather. After the tannin has been removed from the

root, a starch-like substance remains which can be used for food. This has been used in Russia to make bread.

The young leaves can be eaten in salads.

Bistort is astringent and demulcent and is used to treat peptic ulcers, diverticulosis and other irritable or

inflammatory conditions of the bowel : stomatitis, aphthous ulcers, haemorrhoids and anal fissure. It can be used both internally and topically as an ointment. A bistort poultice can be used for sores and haemorrhages


Tannins, Vitamin C, abundant starch,  gallic acid and a little oxalic acid.