Big Medicine – Lomatium Roots of the Rocky Mountains
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)