Bishop herb : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Bishop herb : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The plant is native to the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Egypt. It is grown in Chile, Argentina, Mexico and North America. Commercial cultivation takes place mainly in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

The ripe fruits are used, but often standardized extracts are also used from them.

Bishop’s herb: characteristics of the plant

The toothpick name is an annual, biennial herb that grows up to 1 m high. It has multi-pinnate leaves with filamentous tips. Next to it grow tiny white flowers in large compound umbels. The umbel rays are used as toothpicks, which is how the plant got its name.

The fruits are small and grey-brown; mostly, they have broken down into partial fruits. The partial fruits are about 0.9 mm wide and up to 3 mm long and resemble an egg in shape. They have no hair but have about five lighter-coloured ribs and a kind of pen pad at one end.


Bishop’s herb – how does it taste and smell?

Bishop’s herb fruits are odourless. The taste can best be described as bitter and slightly aromatic.

Bishop’s herb – application


Preparations made from bishop’s herb were previously used prophylactically as a remedy for asthma, spastic bronchitis, coronary insufficiency and angina pectoris (chest pain due to a circulatory disorder of the heart), for which the effectiveness was not proven.

Bishop’s herb: unsuitable for use?

Due to the risk of pseudoallergic reactions, however, such a therapeutic approach is no longer justifiable. Due to these facts, Commission E withdrew its optimistic monograph.


Use in folk medicine.

The fruits of bishop’s herb are rarely used in folk medicine today as a remedy for cramps, for example, in kidney, intestinal or gallbladder colic or mild heart problems such as chest tightness. The fruits are also traditionally used to clean teeth.

Bishop’s herb in homoeopathy

In homoeopathy, the bishop’s herb treats spasms of the smooth muscles and colic, circulatory disorders of the heart muscle, and retinal irritation in glaucoma.


Ingredients of Bishop’s Herb

Bishop’s herb mainly contains fatty oil and proteins, but the main active ingredients are furanochromones (γ-pyrones) such as khellin, visnagin and khellol and pyranocoumarins such as visnadin and samidin. It also contains flavonoids, kaempferol and essential oil.

Bishop’s herb: indications

Bishop’s herb used to be used for these indications:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Angina pectoris
  • Koronarinsuffizienz
  • circulatory disturbance in the heart
  • chest pain
  • renal colic
  • Darmcolic
  • biliary colic

Bishop’s herb – dosage


Phytopharmaceuticals from ammei fruits are no longer used today due to their side effects. The drug used to be contained, for example, in antispasmodic drugs (spasmolytics) and drugs to treat heart problems (coronary therapeutics) and was offered as a urological agent.

Dosage of Bishop’s Herb

Ammei fruits are commercially available as a tea drug, with an active ingredient content standardized to khellin or visnadin. The average daily dose is 20 mg γ-pyrone (corresponds to about 1 g of the drug).


Bishop’s herb: preparation and storage

There is no need to prepare tea because there is no corresponding recommendation for bishop’s herb.

Phototoxic furanocoumarins are obtained from the fruits of Ammi majus and are used for phototherapeutic therapy of pigment anomalies and psoriasis. However, the risk of lung and skin cancer is increased.

The fruits should be stored dry and protected from light.

Bishop’s herb – synonyms


German plant name: bishop herb

German synonyms of the plant: Zahnstocher-Anmei, Khellakraut, Zahnstocherkraut, Khella

Latin plant name: Ammi visnaga L. Lam.

German drug name: bishop herb fruits

Latin drug name: Ammeos visnaga fruits

Latin synonyms of the drug: The fruit of Ammi visnaga

English name: Visnaga fruit (Droge); Visnaga, Khella, Bishop’s wood, Pick Tooth, Toothpick-plant (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Apiaceae (früher: Umbelliferae)

Plant family German: Umbelliferae/Umbellifers


Bishop’s herb – effect

Effect of bishop’s herb

In the isolated heart preparation, a dry extract of the fruit with a high γ-pyrone content increases blood circulation in the heart vessels for a short time. In rats, particularly visnadine has a vasodilating effect by blocking calcium channels.

Khellin and visnagin and their synthetic derivatives have antispasmodic effects.


Bishop’s herb: side effects

Due to the khellin contained in bishop’s herb, the fruit has been shown to have a weak phototoxic effect. In isolated cases, there was an increase in various liver enzymes and severe liver damage.

Evidence of other side effects, such as pseudoallergic reactions and insomnia, has meant that the drug is now practically irrelevant.

Since furanochromones make the skin more sensitive to light, intensive sunbathing and UV radiation should be avoided during use.


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