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Saturday - January 23, 2016

From: Rosedale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Medicinal Plants, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Herbal properties of Dicentra formosa
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I would like to get some information on the Dicentra formosa plant such as the benefits of the plant. Is it poisonous? Can it be infused in an oil?

ANSWER:

Be wary of Dicentra formosa (Pacific bleeding heart)! This herbaceous plant has drooping clusters of pink, heart-shaped flowers, flushed with lavender, that are attached to the leafless stems of this perennial. Pink, heart-shaped flowers hang in small, branched clusters above soft, fern-like, bluish-green leaves at base. The airy, fern-like foliage occurs on separate stalks. Pacific bleeding heart grows from 6-18 in. in height.

Now the serious message from our website that leads to a caution about using it only under direct medical professional supervision: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Toxic only in large quantities. Causes minor skin irritation when touched, lasting only for a few minutes. Symptoms includes trembling, staggering, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, labored breathing. Skin irritation after repeated contact with the cell sap. Toxic Principle: Several isoquinolone alkaloids. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.) 

A web search turned up the following information from the Evergreen State College about the herbal properties of Dicentra formosa ... Has been used as a tonic for strengthening and healing, a narcotic-analgesic for pain and central nervous system disorders. The root is the strongest part, and a tincture of the root has been used for sore teeth, lost fillings, or mouth trauma. Any part of the plant can be applied locally to painful sprains, bruises, or contusions. Internally, a tincture has been used to calm down from shaky nervousness, or uncontrollable anger as an aftermath of physical violence, an accident, etc. A century ago, bleeding heart tonic was used to strengthen people with long-standing syphilis. The tonic increases appetite, stimulates liver metabolism, and generally helps anabolic functions in people who have been sick for long periods of time (Moore:81-82).

The Skagit have used the pounded roots in a decoction for worm medicine. They have also used an infusion of the crushed plants as a wash to make hair grow. The raw roots have been chewed for toothaches (Moerman:199).

Do not use Bleeding heart medicinally if pregnant, for overt neuropathies, or with prescription medications. It may induce a false positive in urine testing for opiates (Moore:82).

Also, the plant is listed as poisonous due to the alkaloids present in all parts of the plant, but especially the leaves. Any part of the plant may also cause skin irritation on contact. Signs of poisoning are: trembling, loss of balance, staggering, weakness, difficulty in breathing, and convulsions (Roberts:19)

 

From the Image Gallery


Pacific bleeding heart
Dicentra formosa

Pacific bleeding heart
Dicentra formosa

Pacific bleeding heart
Dicentra formosa

Pacific bleeding heart
Dicentra formosa

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