encyclopedia

Ramsons (Wild) Garlic Herb

Scientific Names:
Allium ursinum L. [Fam. Alliaceae; Liliaceae s.l.]

Forms:
Ramsons garlic herb (leaves and flowers); the root of Allium ursinum L. can also be used medicinally similar to common garlic A. sativum.

Traditional Usage:
– Antibacterial

– Anti-inflammatory

– Antimicrobial

– Antioxidant

– Cellular Regeneration

– Circulatory Health Maintenance

– Cleansing/Detoxifying

– Dyspepsia

– Flatulence

– Gastrointestinal Upsets

– Heart Health Maintenance

– High Cholesterol

– Immune System

– Poultice

– Skin Disorders

– Sugar Control

– Vascular Disorders

Overview:

Ramsons garlic, Allium ursinum L. [Fam. Alliaceae; Liliaceae s.l.], also known as Wild, Wood, Bear’s or Hog’s garlic, is a bulbous plant found in Europe and northern Asia. Bears are said to seek out the plant in spring for digestive cleansing. The herb has similar medicinal virtues as common garlic and is often recommended as a digestive cleanser and to promote healing in chronic skin outbreaks and infections. German researchers list the use of Ramsons garlic herb in folk medicine as a carminative for treating gastrointestinal upsets to expel gas. The authors note that the antibacterial action of the herb makes it appropriate for use in treating other dyspeptic complaints as well. Ramsons garlic is also believed to prevent high vascular tension, high cholesterol, and other circulatory problems. One compound found in Ramsons, ajoene, is known to inhibit thrombocyte aggregation (reduces blood platelet stickiness) and another compound, (+)-S-methyl-L-cysteine sulphoxide, decreases blood cholesterol levels. Ramsons can be found in many prepared teas for heart health maintenance and circulatory support. The leaves can be added to hot or cold food but lose much of their essential oils and value when dried. Ramsons bulbs can also be used like common garlic, Allium sativum, and are considered even stronger. Garlic bulbs have many established medicinal virtues including: antimicrobial effects; abnormal growth prevention/treatment; blood sugar control benefits; immune stimulation; anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant benefits. Numerous clinical trials with garlic cloves and standardized garlic powder tablets leave little doubt that modest amounts of garlic have significant vascular benefits by reducing serum cholesterol, improving blood lipid profiles, reducing vascular pressure and platelet aggregation, improving blood flow and reducing vascular hardening. Epidemiological and animal studies strongly indicate significant activity against abnormal growths, particularly of the intestinal tract. And garlic’s intestinal and topical antimicrobial activities are also well recognized.

Note: See Garlic for more information on the therapeutic indications of garlic bulbs.

Active Ingredients:
Ramsons herb (leaves and flowers) contain: Up to 0.007% “onion” oil is obtained upon steam distillation, which arises, as with garlic and other Allium species, from odourless precursors, e.g. alliin (= (+)-S-allyl-L-cysteine sulphoxide. The oil from Ramsons contains principally vinyl disulphide, as well as vinyl polysulphides. The compound, allyl isothiocyanate, was reported in 1963 but needs to be verified. Recent examination of an acetone/chloroform extract has shown the presence of ajoene and homologues, together with alliin (0.20%) and (+)-S-methyl-L-cysteine sulphoxide (0.40%) and a range of other sulphur-containing compounds; the overall qualitative composition is like that of A. sativum. The drug also contains flavonoids and traces of prostaglandins A, B, and F. Ramsons bulbs contain inulin as the major storage carbohydrate (as opposed to starch), as is the case with common garlic.

Suggested Amount:
Ramsons tea is not common. The fresh leaves are used as a seasoning like chives, onions, and garlic. The bulbs and leaves can be infused in warm milk for 2 to 3 hours, and then sipped slowly. Ramsons tincture is recommended with the dosage of 10 to 15 drops taken in water 4 times daily.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
None known.

Side Effects:
None known if used as directed. Overdose may cause gastric irritation.

References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Garlic in Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 139-148.

Lawson, LD. 1998. Garlic: A Review of its Medicinal Effects and Indicated Active Compounds. In: Lawson, LD. and R. Bauer (eds.). Phytomedicines of Europe: Chemistry and Biological Activity. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society Symposium Series 691. Pp. 176-209.

Smeets K, Van Damme EJ, Van Leuven F, Peumans WJ. 1997. Isolation, characterization and molecular cloning of a leaf-specific lectin from ramsons (Allium ursinum L.). Plant Mol Biol 1997 Nov; 35(4): 531-5.

Smeets K, Van Damme EJ, Van Leuven F, Peumans WJ. 1997. Isolation and characterization of lectins and lectin-alliinase complexes from bulbs of garlic (Allium sativum) and ramsons (Allium ursinum). Glycoconj J 1997 Apr; 14(3): 331-43.

Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Ramson’s Garlic. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 57-58.