Medicinal plants

Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) - effects and uses

Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) - effects and uses

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The columbine, a rather unknown medicinal plant, is not for the medicine chest because it is poisonous. Although it rarely has a say in the herb and medicinal plant books, it should not be completely forgotten. Maybe she can show off her skills with other plants.

Profile of the columbine

  • Scientific name: Aquilegia vulgaris
  • Plant family: Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
  • Popular names: Elf shoe, elf glove, columbine, bellflower, eagle flower, fool's cap, pants, woman's cap, pigeon flower, tauberln, five vögerl together, capuchin hat, Pfaffenkäpple, Venuswagen, glove, harlequin flower, hoselatzli
  • Occurrence: in temperate locations in the northern hemisphere
  • application areas:
    • Blemishes
    • Eczema and ulcers
    • Metabolic diseases
    • Digestive problems
    • inner unrest
    • Menstrual problems
  • Parts of plants used: Leaves, roots, seeds
  • ingredients: Hydrocyanic acid, hydrocyanic acid glycoside, magnoflorin, myristic acid, linoleic acid

Healing effects

Have the effective ingredients of columbine

  • blood purifying,
  • urinary and sweaty,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • skin cleansing
  • and metabolism stimulating

Healing effects. In the Middle Ages, folk medicine used columbine for its edema, edema, jaundice, rheumatism and gout. It was used externally for ulcers, fistulas, eczema, blemished skin and open wounds. Caution is advised due to their hydrocyanic acid, the majority of which is lost through drying and heating. Nevertheless, conventional medicine and naturopaths are skeptical about the use of the plant.

Columbine is very rarely used as a medicinal herb these days. Firstly, because of the toxicity already mentioned, and secondly, because many other non-toxic plants have a similar or even higher effectiveness than them. However, it should not be completely forgotten. Especially in mixtures, administered expertly, it would have its area of ​​application. In medicine, it is used almost exclusively in homeopathy today, although it is a rare remedy there as well.

Used as tea, columbine helps with indigestion and cleansing the blood. As already described, it stimulates the metabolism, which is indicated for gout and rheumatism. It is used externally, in the form of pads or compresses, for itchy, dry skin. The ingredient linoleic acid is responsible for the healing effects on the skin. In the past, the dried seeds were crushed and used for skin parasites.

According to Hildegard von Bingen's recipe, columbine honey, to be used for coughing up cough, and columbine herb drops are commercially available. The latter are recommended for flu, measles, rubella, chickenpox, herpes, angina, swelling of the lymph nodes, for lymphatic drainage and for fever to the knowledge of Hildegard von Bingen.


Columbine is used as a fresh, flowering plant to prepare the homeopathic remedy. In homeopathy, it stands for hysteria, globus hystericus (the feeling of having a lump in the throat), insomnia and vomiting in the morning, green fluid in menopausal women. It also includes nervous tremors in the body, sensitivity to light and noise, and dysmenorrhea (painful periods) in young girls.

History, stories

The columbine is rarely represented when it is sought in art. A picture of this medicinal herb is known from Albrecht Dürer. It is not mentioned in manuals and icons. Hildegard von Bingen describes them in her physics from 1150, but only in connection with other plants.

In medieval medicine, the common columbine is used as a means of cleaning. Goethe described it as follows: “The aglei rises beautifully and lowers its head. Is it feeling? Or is it courage? You don't guess it. ”Seen symbolically, the columbine, by the nodding head of its flowers, is meant to remind of the melancholy of the Mother of God. One of the many common names is "Pfaffenkäpple". This is reminiscent of humility and piety.

Before Christ it was known as an aphrodisiac. The Meskaki Indians made love potions from this herb. Furthermore, it is said that it was contained in so-called witch salves in Europe. The columbine was recommended to men in the Middle Ages when their potency had been lost through witchcraft. She was also consecrated to the Germanic Freya, the goddess of fertility. This medicinal herb played a role in fertility rituals. So she was placed in bed straw in case of infertility.

Side effects

Improper production as well as an overdose of columbine can lead to life-threatening poisoning. Possible symptoms of poisoning are light pink skin, an accelerated pulse, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath and impaired consciousness. The columbine contains hydrocyanic acid, which is considered carcinogenic. Accordingly, cell degeneration is possible with prolonged use.


Common columbine is quite common in southern Germany, especially in gardens as a beautiful ornament. It also grows in clearings in the forest. It is perennial and prefers sandy soils. From April to July you can see their beautiful blue or purple flowers that playfully look like little elves. What makes her so cute is her constant nod.

The columbine is a beautiful garden flower. As mentioned, it has healing effects, but is no longer used due to its slight toxicity and the carcinogenic hydrocyanic acid it contains. Homeopathy is an exception. But also here an experienced therapist should determine the means and the dose. It is not suitable for home use. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Knobloch, Gerold: Natural Remedies from A - Z, Verlag neobooks, 2013
  • Fritz, Rolf: The symbolic meaning of columbine, Journal article, Wallraf-Richartz yearbook, vol. 14, pp. 99-110, 1952,
  • Boericke, William: Homeopathic remedies and their effects, Materia Medica and Repertory, 5th extended and improved edition, Scientific authors publishing house, 1995

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