Botanical: Anemone pulsatilla (also known as Pulsatilla vulgaris)
Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup)
Other common names: European Pasque Flower, Passe Flower, Easter Flower, Meadow Anemone,
Pulsatilla has been used by herbalists as a nervine to calm and soothe the nerves and relieve pain, neuralgia, tension headaches and insomnia. It is also thought to ease ovarian and menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and testicular pain; and the herb's antibacterial qualities are believed to be effective in alleviating acne and other skin problems.
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Pulsatilla is an anemone and one of over two thousand species of mostly herbs and shrubs in the large Ranunculaceae family. It is a handsome perennial that may be found in short clumps in the meadows and prairies of North America and Eurasia. The anthers of this deciduous plant are bright yellow and the purple bell consists of sepals. The leaves are downy; the segments many-parted, and the solitary flowers are deep-purple or violet, blooming early in the spring, and, according to some writers, again in the latter part of summer or early autumnl. It is a simple, erect plant with rounded stems, reaching about five inches in height, and in its tallgrass prairie habitat, it is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, often before the late winter snows have thawed. Because of the plant's early blooming period (about Eastertide), Pulsatilla was given the name, Pasque Flower, by the French. A rich, legendary history has gained the anemone many names and attributes. It is said to have sprung from the blood of Adonis, and the Romans considered it valuable in preventing fever. The common name, Windflower, is accounted for in several ways, one of which is Pliny's statement that anemone blossoms are opened by the wind. The plant may be found growing wild (although Pulsatilla vulgaris does not transplant well) in open meadows, pasture grounds and fields, thriving in dry, sandy, neutral-to-alkaline soil in full sun. Pulsatilla grows in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere of Europe (where their medicinal uses have been recorded since antiquity by Galen and Dioscorides); with other species growing in North America (where it was considered the chief medicinal plant of the Minnesota tribes of Native Americans and The "great medicine" of the Northwestern tribes); as well as in Asia (where it has been in use as an antibacterial, astringent and anti-inflammatory since the days of the Han Dynasty of 206 B.C-A.D. 23). The European (Old World) and American species greatly resemble each other in appearance and some applications. A. pulsatilla is included in the British Pharmacopœia, and the North American species (the floral emblem of South Dakota ) was formerly listed in the United States Pharmacopœia from 1882 to 1905, as a diuretic, expectorant and uterine stimulant. It is a bitter, cooling herb that is cut when flowering, then carefully dried for use in herbal medicines. Some of the constituents in Pulsatilla include an oily principle, which decomposes into protoanemonin (the lactone of gamma-hydroxy-vinylacrylic acid) and anemonin (a highly active substance), glucose, tannin, resins, pectin, calcium compounds, magnesium compounds and sulphates. Because anemone species contain an acrid compound anemonin, it can be highly irritating to mucous membranes and must always be used under the direction of a qualified health care provider.
Pulsatilla is considered an alterative, or agent that helps to gradually and favorably alter the course of an ailment or condition, most often by altering the process of nutrition and excretion and restoring normal bodily function. It may achieve improvement by cleansing and stimulating the efficient removal of waste products from the system.
As a nervine, Pulsatilla has been used to soothe and calm the nerves, as well as reduce stress and anxiety with particular attention to nerve exhaustion in women. It is said to relieve pain, earache, neuralgia and tension headaches. The anemonin and protanemonin compounds in the herb are thought to produce a sedating effect, and it is said to be effective in alleviating hyperactivity and insomnia.
Pulsatilla is considered to be an antispasmodic and, as such, is believed to relieve spasms, relax smooth muscle in the gut, alleviate uterine cramps and allay spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping cough and bronchitis.
Herbalists have used Pulsatilla to relieve inflammation and pain in the reproductive organs (including painful conditions of the testes and ovarian pain), painful menstrual periods and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It has also been used as an emmenagogue, which helps to stimulate menstruation and regulate its flow.
Pulsatilla is called a diaphoretic that produces perspiration and elimination through the skin, and this action may help to reduce fevers. A 1988 analysis determined that anemonin is a compound that produces a fever-lowering effect.
As an antibacterial herb, Pulsatilla is thought to be effective in relieving bacterial skin infections, including boils and acne. A 1990 study demonstrated that protoanemonin in Pulsatilla has in vitro activity against fungi and may, thus, be helpful in cases of vaginal yeast infections.
Pulsatilla has been used to relieve catarrhal diarrhea, and anemone is considered to be one of the most effective herbs for relieving amœbic dysentery.
Because anemones contain the acrid compound, anemonin, Pulsatilla Herbal Supplement can be poisonous and must always be used under the direction of a qualified health care provider. The herb is harmful if eaten fresh (and only the dried plant is used medicinally), and repeated handling may cause skin irritation. The anemonin compound in Pulsatilla is a powerful irritant, and overdoses cause violent gastroenteritis, vomiting, looseness of the bowels and convulsions. This herb is recommended for use by qualified practitioners only. Pulsatilla is not given to patients with colds.