Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum L) belongs to the family Rubiaceae. It is a shade-loving evergreen perennial herb. The plant is an important medicinal and aromatic plants in many European folk medicines (1). It is mainly distributed in North and Central Europe, Siberia, Northern Africa and the north of Iran. Traditionally used to treat digestive and bladder disorders, hepatitis, and nervousness (2). The flowers and aerial parts of this plant are used for the treatment of nervous agitation, jaundice, hemorrhoids, circulation, and venous disorders. The crushed leaves are used externally on swelling and wound (3,4).
Sweet woodruff benefits
1. Accelerate burn wound healing
Studies done on animal models suggest that sweet woodruff helps in healing burn wounds. This may be due to its rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds (4). Therefore, this plant can be used for speedy recovery of burn.
2. Antihypoxic property of sweet woodruff
Hypoxia is acute poisoning that occurs due to exogenous toxicants like cyanides, alcohol, acetone. Thus preventing the utilization of oxygen by blocking the processes of oxidation and reduction of cytochromes.
There are very few herbal medicines which act against hypoxia. Studies suggested that dry extract of sweet woodruff acts as a good anti hypoxic activity. Which is almost twice higher than that for the reference drug “Bilobil” without having any adverse effect (5).
3. The sedative activity of sweet woodruff
The dry extracts of sweet woodruff are also used as a sedative in many traditional medicinal systems. It thus helps in reducing hysteria, depression. Thus the leaves extracts are used for insomnia and nervous tension.
4. Good for digestion
Sweet woodruff can be taken internally for the treatment of digestive disorders and also for liver problems.
5. Protects liver
The sweet woodruff extract helps in protecting the liver due to its anti-inflammatory activities and antioxidant activities. Therefore, the leaf extract can be used in hepatitis and jaundice.
6. Prevents blood clotting
The plant contains coumarin which helps in the prevention of blood clotting. As the plant is rich in coumarin, therefore, this plant is grown in many places commercially for the production of the herbal anticoagulant.
7. Reduces uterus inflammation
The anti-inflammatory activity and the hormone-like compound Asperuloside which gets converted into prostaglandins of sweet woodruff help in reducing the inflammation of the uterus.
Side effects of Sweet woodruff
Although there is almost no or very little side effects of sweet woodruff herb still excessive uses should be avoided.
1. The side effect of Coumarin in sweet woodruff
Coumarin is a compound present in the woodruff plant. The dried parts of these plants, therefore, have more coumarin in comparison of the fresh part. This compound is used as an anticoagulant. therefore excessive use of this plant should be avoided as it may sometime cause internal bleeding.
2. Avoid using sweet woodruff during pregnancy
Due to its anticoagulant nature you should avoid using the sweet woodruff herb during pregnancy.