Mar 182008

Here I am with my fresh Lomatium dissectum roots, which seem nearly as big as I am. Resinous and highly aromatic, these roots are an intense kind of medicine. Below, you can see a picture (yes, that is my disembodied thumb) of how the latexy resin seeps out of the freshly cut root in an almost floral pattern.

Lomatium is a bit controversial, thanks to the rash some folks break out in after ingesting it. There’s a lot of theories about that, some people say that if you combine it with certain other plants, or if you take it in a certain dosage, or you only use the dried root then you won’t get this unpleasant reaction. I’ll let you know what I think when I get a bit more familiar with the plant.

I’m currently brewing up some fresh plant tincture, some fresh plant infused oil and drying some of the roots as well for dried plant preparations. The sap is very soothing and healing to the skin as well as being very anti-microbial, so it should make an excellent salve.

This plant is most famous for its ability to increase resistance to certain microbes, viruses specifically, in the human body. How this is accomplished is yet another subject of contention among herbalists, since there seems to be mixed results regarding Lomatium’s actual ability to kill viruses in the body. However, many people report great success in treating certain chronic viruses such as HIV, HCV and others. Some herbalists also consider it to have adaptogen like effects on the body, a use stemming from indigenous peoples’ use of the plant during convalescence and when treating chronic illness. I personally have not yet had enough experience with the plant to comment, although it seems hopeful.

The root tastes something like lemon-parsnip-furniture polish, pleasant but with an edge. Other varieties of Lomatium I’ve tasted are sweeter and more carroty with far less of the medicinal resins. The drying roots have given their rich scent to the whole Medicine Lodge, and you could easily get a bit intoxicated while spending time in there. It does make for a very lovely work environment.

I’m very much looking forward to blending up some of the fresh plant tincture with some of my equally amazing Balsamroot (more about this one soon) tincture, and maybe making a honey-based syrup to blend with some Elderberry Elixir and Beebalm/Osha/Wild Ginger honey for an amazing and tasty immune tonic.

Michael Moore very specifically suggests using Lomatium in formula with a diaphoretic (Elder, Wild Ginger, Beebalm), a stimulant to liver function and bile secretion (Dandelion or Oregon Grape Root) and something to stimulate mucus secretion in the resp tract (Grindelia, Osha, Balsamroot). This should aid in avoiding the rash theoretically, though Todd Caldecott has seen otherwise. Also, I suggest limiting dosage to less than 30 drops 3x/day. I’ve got more than one person eager to try the Lomatium though, so I’ll be updating this in the next few months as to rashes and positive effects.

If you buy Lomatium, make sure you get yourself a sustainable or organic source! And if you harvest yourself, take precautions to make sure you’re not making any visible impact on the population.


Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains by Darcy Williamson

Planting the Future, edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch

Lomatium Rash Case Reports by Paul Bergner (with rash testimonial by Henriette and links to pictures)

Lomatium commentary by Paul Bergner

Lomatium Monograph by Todd Caldecott

  14 Responses to “Big Medicine – Lomatium Roots of the Rocky Mountains”

  1. wow! where’d ya get THAT?? Tell me you dug it up yourself? That must have been real interesting!

    cool! You look great btw!

  2. Thanks! I wish L. dissectum grew around here, we have Lomatium but other kinds. This is from Idaho, from lovely herbalist Darcy Williamson, dug sustainably from the wild… she’s also who I get Balsamroot and Wild Peony from. She also sells native seeds, tinctures, dried wild mushrooms and other stuff.

  3. thanks kiva rose for letting us know about darcy. i looked her up and was delighted she has a website! hmmm…maybe when i’m further along and know what i’m doing, i’ll order these from her as well.

    btw, sorry if this is a stupid question, but what kind of alcohol do you use for your tinctures generally? vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, etc…does it make a difference?

  4. Darcy’s great…. if you look at her tincture prices they’re unreal. I’ve had her on my links page/list since I started my blog, and have talked about her a bit in previous posts too. Very neat lady, and her book is awesome too. Be aware you can only get fresh plants in season from her, so roots are in fall and now.

    For fresh plants I usually use 95% alcohol, commonly known as Everclear around here. For dried plants, it depends on the plant and its constituents. And if that’s too confusing, just use 100 proof (50% alcohol) vodka and it’ll work fine πŸ™‚

    I sometimes use brandy or tequila or scotch depending on what’s available and what plant I’m using (like I tend to use brandy for Elderberry preparations or certain appalachian plants in scotch, just because I learned it that way and I like it LOL) but mostly I prefer unflavored alcohol so I can better judge and feel the effect and taste of the plant, less filler to get in the way of the plant in my opinion.

    Tis not a stupid question, but it is one with a long answer, and many different answers depending on who you ask and what book they’ve read. πŸ˜‰

  5. Tis an amazing picture Kiva. I just had to use ‘Tis:) and the root looks great too;)

    That is so amazing, I did at first think you dug those pups right outta the ground looking clean still…lol
    I did have to say though that looking at the picture, I can smell that through the monitor.
    It looks like it would smell exactly how you describe.
    Take care dear one!

  6. Good work!
    I live in the Columbia River Gorge and and am heading out today to find this myself
    (its prolific here) as well as balsam root. I have a sick daughter with a chronic lung
    congestion, she’s 15 and just cant get over it. I feel the need for totally indigenous
    medicine for her. She’s already been through the alopathic route, but it had the effect of making her worse. A friend of mine used this mixed into honey, but I’m not sure if i need to dry it? I dont have the time! Your site is lovely.

  7. Hi Julia. Lomatium is much stronger when fresh, though this isn’t always desirable, because that rash is highly unpleasant and can sometimes occur even when used in formula in small doses. I’d try other options first, the balsamroot is good, osha might be another and perhaps wild licorice, it all depends on how it’s manifesting in your daughter. Good luck!

  8. thank you! the lomatium I found was rather pithy and sapless, being mid october.
    I made a stew like concoction with honey, fresh elder and mashed rosehips, and little slices
    of fresh root, which my daughter ate rather suspiciously. She no longer has the deepness of cough. she is taking osha as well. A huge bald eagle was roosting near the spot i chose
    to dig, unknown to me until he swooped down over my head and made a beautiful arc over the river ( Columbia ). A blessing!

  9. Hi Kiva

    I was doing a search on Lomatium and stumbled acrross your great site.
    Wow what great pictures. A few years back I was recommended the
    Gaia Lomatia Osha blend ( unfortunately no longer made) to clear up a
    very nasty lung condition. After seeing doctors and doing anti-biotics
    this stuff clear my condition in less than a week and I was amazed and
    have been a fan ever since. I did unfortunately or fortunately get hit by the skin
    rash and didnt know what it was at the time. I love the links talking about this
    could be a systemic issue with the people that get hit with this somehow this feels
    right. I continue to use it in the winter if a cold hits although Gaia no longer makes
    it I found it in a formula from HerbPharm called ViraAttack! Here is another article about
    Lomatia that I found very interesting.

  10. I would guess that it is the latex that causes the reaction. I have a sensitivity to latex and react to dandelion, which also is a natural source of latex. I would not be surprised if that was the cause in others since it is such a common allergen.

  11. Dear Lily,

    I would suspect that is part of the problem, but there are certainly many people who react to Lomatium who are not generally sensitive to latex.

  12. Its great to see such lovely specimums. I used to wildcraft with my dad some 20 years ago! Its nice to see people understanding the medicinal value of these great plants.

  13. you look exactly like my daughter with brown long hair.

  14. Wow. I, too, discovered your site while researching lomatium! Those are absolutely beautiful, I can smell them!
    And just look at their Spirit! Wonderful site, just wonderful! I will most def be spending some time here. Am very much interested in what you share about Balsam Root also, I just gathered some seeds this fall….
    May You Walk In Beauty

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>