Scientific Names of Burnet-saxifrage Root:    

Pimpinella saxifraga L. and P. major L. [Fam. Apiaceae]


Dried and coarsely cut root for infusions

Traditional Usage:    

– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Breathing Problems
– Bronchitis
– Catarrh  (Mucous) of the mouth and throat
– Coughs
– Diarrhea
– Diuretic
– Dyspepsia
– Expectorant
– Hoarseness
– Indigestion
– Mouthwash
– Sore Throat
– Upper Respiratory Catarrh
– Upper Respiratory Infections
– Urinary Gravel
– Wounds (topically)


The roots of burnet-saxifrage, Pimpinella saxifraga L. and greater burnet-saxifrage, P. major L., [Fam. Apiaceae], are used as a component of the gastrointestinal remedy, Swedish Bitters. In Europe, burnet-saxifrage root is used in several bronchial remedies, bone and joint health formulas and in remedies for improving circulation. In folk tradition, the root was used to prevent or relieve coughs and as a mild expectorant in bronchitis. Studies show that it has expectorant and cough suppressant activity. Infusions of the roots are widely used to treat bronchitis, hoarseness and sore throat. The roots are listed in the German Commission E Monographs for dissolving phlegm and treating catarrh of the upper respiratory tract. Infusions and tinctures are used as a gargle for inflammation of the mouth and throat. Alcohol extracts of the root are also used in some mouthwashes. The German Commission E also endorses burnet-saxifrage root for treating upper respiratory infections. The German Pharmacopoeia also recognizes burnet-saxifrage root as a source of essential oils and bitters that can treat mild stomach cramps and other digestive disorders. The tea is also noted as a diuretic. According to Culpeper, the fresh root is hot and peppery and can be chewed to ease toothaches. It is also said to stop diarrhea and purgings. He recommends a teaspoonful of the powdered root for every cup of tea infused in boiling water and then drunk cold to cleanse the respiratory tract and stomach of mucous. The root also contains several powerful antioxidants including the principle components of the essential oil, pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate and isoeugenol, also found in anise roots. Isoeugenol has documented antioxidant activity, particularly for normalizing antioxidant defense in diabetics. In a recent animal study, all tissues from diabetic animals had depressed antioxidant status when compared with normal controls but treatment with isoeugenol reversed this.

Active Ingredients:    

Burnet-saxifrage root contains: Approximately 0.4-0.6% essential oil containing at least 60 different components including geijerene, pregeijrene, beta-bisabolene, dimethyl-azulene, and as the major components, the tiglic esters of epoxy-pseudo-isoeugenol (pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate). The roots also contain: polyacetylenes; coumarins and furanocoumarins; umbelliferone, bergapten; xanthotoxin; scopoletin; sphondin; isobergapten; pimpinellin; and isopimpinellin; caffeic, quinic and chlorogenic acids; sitosterol; flavonoids, 1% saponins; tannins and polysaccharides.

Suggested Amount:    

The daily dose of burnet-saxifrage root is 3-12g of the dried root for infusions or 6-15ml of burnet-saxifrage tincture (1:5). To prepare an infusion: Pour boiling water over 2-5 teaspoonfuls of cut root (1 teaspoonful weighs approximately 2.5g) and after about 10 minutes pass through a tea strainer. The root material can also be placed in cold water initially and then brought to a boil for a short time before straining. As a cough remedy, unless otherwise prescribed, a cold cup of the infusion is drunk three or four times a day, sweetened with honey.

Drug Interactions:    

None known


None known

Side Effects:    

None known


Andarwulan N, Shetty K. 1999. Phenolic content in differentiated tissue cultures of untransformed and Agrobacterium-transformed roots of anise (Pimpinella anisum L.).

J Agric Food Chem. 1999 Apr; 47(4): 1776-80.

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 181; 491. Rodale Press.

Potterton, D. (ed.) 1983. Culpeper’s Color Herbal. Copyright W. Foulsham and Co. Ltd. 1983. Publ. by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., Two Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10016. Pp. 167-168.

Rauscher FM, Sanders RA, Watkins JB 3rd. 2001. Effects of isoeugenol on oxidative stress pathways in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2001; 15(3): 159-64.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Pimpinellae radix – Burnet-saxifrage root (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 375-377.