Transition to a New Kind of Wellness®

A Wild and Ugly Carrot, but Beauty Inside

Lomatium is an ugly carrot that is bitter to the taste, but it has a wonderful earthly and enticing smell. Called “heap powerful medicine” by the native people, this article shares its historical uses as well as some of the studies done to support its medical uses.

Lomatium Names

The root that I use to make my Bear Root tincture is a member of the carrot and parsley family. Its common English names are: Fernleaf Biscuitroot and Desert Parsley. Both are derived from the greenery which resembles a fern, carrot, or parsley.  In addition, the name Biscuitroot comes from history, the native people in the western half of North America would boil the root down like boiling a potato for mashed potatoes, blend it with other flours and bake it into biscuits. The scientific name is Lomatium (pronounced lomashum) Dissectum.

Learning about Lomatium

I confess my research was made easy thanks to the internet, the hard work has been done by many people for many years, for which I am rewarded. Dr. Max Barlow deserves nearly all the credit, and I have shared most, if not all his writings on Lomatium on my website. His daughter Dr. Jane Barlow continues his work in herbal medicine and I share a link to her website also.

In the time I  have been selling my tincture, I have learned the native people use the common names of “Bear” and “Bitter” root.  Those who have retained some of the native languages use, “Cous” and “Dortza”.  The Merrim-Webster dictionary defines “Cous” as an herb (Lomatium cous) of the northwestern U.S. having edible roots and “Dortza”  which translates to “heap powerful medicine”.  I have personally had this name confirmed by several members of the native people at my table. 

Historical Uses

The name “Bitter” is appropriate, the taste of the root is exactly that.  I have learned that the native people would break off bits of the root and chew on it till the flavor was gone and spit it out.  The texture is woody and it would be like chewing on a toothpick.  Children would be given the portion of the stem that comes right out of the top of the root to chew on.  This part looks like a pink straw and appears inviting to chew on, however, I imagine that it tastes no different from the root itself. 

Traditionally, the root was gathered, sliced open and allowed to dry by hanging it in their lodges until used. I have had members of the native peoples in my area share with me that they still boil the root down and pour it onto the fire in their sweat lodges and breathe it in.  The elders, particularly their grandmothers in the family, dig a root out of storage, from their yard, or even from a remote area of the reservation, boil it down, make it into a tea and have everyone in the family drink the tea when someone is ill.

How to Find and Forage

Lomatium Dissectum is native to much of Western North America, growing on the eastern slopes of the mountain ranges, in what are high desert regions, hence the name Desert Parsley. It is very important when foraging, that it not be mistaken for poison Hemlock. Lomatium Dissectum is only 1 of 100 species of Lomatium.  

Each State has different regulations regarding the individual species within their borders, as well as rules set by national groups. For example, my patch is on Bureau of Land Management ground and I had to apply for a permit to forage and because it an endangered plant species, I can only remove 1 in 10 plants.  My friend and I wait to dig the large portion of what I need to produce my tincture until after the plants have gone to seed, to help ensure the life of the native population.

Properties and Dosing

Lomatium Dissectum has a detoxing property and can be used every day to support your immune system. Use of the tincture at the maintenance dose is typically 3 drops 3 times a day, increasing to as much as 90 drops 4 times a day when ill. 

It is best to place the drops under your tongue, for two reasons. The taste of the tincture is not improved in the process of tincturing, there are no taste buds on the underside of your tongue, and the tincture is absorbed directly into the body. Adding it to drinks to cover up the flavor reduces its effectiveness because it is broken down by the stomach acids. 

Another option is drinking the tea 3 times a day from the root boiled down or the crushed flowers and leaves. However, flavor is an issue with these options, as well.

Side Effects

There are only 2 side effects.   Lomatium may cause nausea (level of risk unknown), however in my 4 years of selling my Bear Root Tincture, no one has come to me with nausea as a complaint. I have a very sensitive stomach and I have not experienced nausea myself.  The second potential side effect is a very low risk.  Less than 1% of users get an all-body rash, this is actually considered a good thing. The rash means that the root is detoxifying your body, but a rash can be very uncomfortable.  I have been made aware of 3 people that have gotten the rash in that last 4 years. One was my customer and she admitted she had also recently started a new medication. Whether she developed the rash from the tincture or the medication was not shared with me.

I am grateful to the Drs. Barlow and many others for sharing their discoveries and grateful that God has given me the gift to share this wild carrot with the world.

Diana Radford is the owner of Atlantis Herbals.  She helps people to live an abundantly healthy and happy life with tinctures made from foods and herbs that have natural healing properties.  To learn more about Diana Radford, click here.