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Scientific Name(S): Levisticum officinale Koch. syn. Angelica levisticum Baillon. Also referred to as Hipposelinum levisticum Britt. and Rose in older texts. Family: Umbelliferae

Common Name(S): Lovage, maggi plant, smellage

Lovage is a beautiful hardy perennial herb belonging to the Umbelliferae , the same family as angelica and carrot.

Although lovage has been grown in English gardens and Monastery gardens for hundreds of years, it is not a native plant. It originates from the Mediterranean.

Botany: Lovage is an aromatic umbelliferous perennial that is similar in appearance to angelica. It carries yellow-green flowers arranged in dense clusters, which bloom from July to August on top of the thick, hollow stems. The plants grow up to 2 meters high. Its leaves are divided by sharply toothed leaflets. Its characteristic, strongly aromatic odor resembles celery. It tastes "spicy­sweet" and slightly bitter. Lovage is native to Europe, but is found throughout the northeastern US and Canada. This plant should not be confused with Oenanthe cocata L. known commonly as water lovage and O. aquatica (L.) Lam. (water fennel), toxic members of the family Apiaceae.

History: Lovage has been used in folk medicine for > 500 years, primarily for its GI effects. It has a reputation for use as a carminative and antiflatulent, but it has also been used as a diuretic and for the management of sore throats and topical boils. It has been used as a breath lozenge, a skin wash and a lotion. The name "lovage" is from the Latin word meaning "from liguria" because, at one time, the herb flourished in this region. Translated to English, it evolved into "love parsley." Misled by its descriptive name, lovage has been included in numerous otc "love tonics." Today it is a common ingredient in commercial herbal teas. Extracts of lovage are used as flavorings for liqueurs, spice extracts and bitter spirits and fragrances for cosmetics. Cooked leaves and roots have been eaten.

Uses of Lovage

Lovage root tea eases bloating and flatulence, and eases digestion. It is also used in combination with other herbs to counteract colds and flu. Should not be used during pregnancy nor if you have kidney diseases .

Side Effects of Lovage

Lovage can cause photosensitivity with resultant dermatitis at harvest, but not as a therapeutic agent.

Toxicology: Furocoumarins in plants of the Umbelliferae family may cause photosensitivity resulting in dermatitis.

Summary: Lovage is a fragrant plant that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. Although there is only limited evidence to support many of its traditional claims, the plant contains a volatile oil that most likely contributes to its carminative and diuretic effects. Photosensitivity has been reported with the harvesting of the plant, but not with its therapeutic use.

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