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Overview

Lovage is a large, hardy perennial plant (some report it growing up to nine feet tall, but even six feet is not unusual) of which all parts, from root to stem to leaf to seeds, are usefully edible.

The commonest use of lovage is the leaves, which are an herb said to taste largely of celery (perhaps, say some, with a light overtone of anise) and many who grow lovage find it a simpler and in many ways better replacement for celery (as one put it, “you never need to buy celery or parsley again other than for celery sticks with Chez Whiz”).

While we would disagree quite vigorously with the parsley part, we are inclined to agree with the celery part. Lovage is, though, very strongly flavoured and needs to be used with a correspondingly light hand.

History

The name, Lovage, is said to be derived from two Latin words, Levisticum and Ligusticum (two botanical names for the genus) meaning Ligurian, because the herb flourished in ancient times in Liguria, a region that includes the Italian Riviera.

These terms became garbled over the years and by the time it entered English, in Chaucer’s day, the name became corrupted beyond recognition. Misled by the name, lovage, many people over the years have fancied a connection between lovage and love potions (perhaps because it also sweetens the breath?).

It became a popular medication in the fourteenth century, probably because of its aromatic qualities and was widely used for fevers and “pestilential disorders”.”

In the New World, New Englanders planted lovage for its roots, which they candied and used as a sweet and a breath lozenge and nineteenth-century Shaker religious communities grew and sold Lovage as part of their commercial enterprises.

It was formerly widely utilised for culinary purposes and eaten as a vegetable.

Benefits

Lovage is mainly used as a diuretic, which encourages urine flow. The additional urine is said to be helpful in cases of urinary difficulties and cystitis.

It is also used to eliminate excess retained water. The increased urine flow promoted by lovage also helps to flush the kidneys, which is said to be beneficial in eliminating gravel and kidney stones.

Lovage is considered a stomachic, an agent that strengthens and improves stomach function.

The bitter principle in lovage also works to improve the appetite and relieve indigestion and colic, gastric, catarrh and general disorders of the stomach.

Lovage is particularly effective when used to relieve flatulence. Both ancient Greek writers and modern pharmacologists have extolled the benefits of the herb’s powers to relieve gas and griping (the grumbling and pain associated with gas).

Nutritional Profile

Lovage contains a broad-spectrum of minerals and amino acids.

Disclaimer

The information provided is for educational purposes only and must not be taken or interpreted as a suggestion or as medical advise.

If you have any medical conditions, you should consult your health care professional.

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