Facts and benefits of Alkanet

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Facts and benefits of Alkanet

Alkanet Quick Facts
Name: Alkanet
Scientific Name: Alkanna tinctoria
Origin Mediterranean region
Shapes Minute nut like fruits
Taste Bitter, astringent taste
Health benefits Good for Heart Health and Helps to control Blood Pressure
Alkanna tinctoria commonly known as alkanet, bugloss, anchusa, Spanish bugloss, dyer’s bugloss, orchanet, common alkanet and hoary puccoon is a plant in the Boraginaceae (Borage family) whose roots are used as a red dye. The plant is native in the Mediterranean region. The name Anchusa is derived from the Greek word anchousa which means paint, from the use of the root as a dye. The root produces a fine red coloring material which has been used as a dye in the Mediterranean region since antiquity. The root as a dyestuff is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but is insoluble in water. It is used to give color to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes

Plant Description

Alkanet is a biennial or perennial herbaceous plant that grows about 0.3 to 0.6 m in height. The plant is found growing in all kinds of temperate environments such as grazing pastures, in alfalfa fields, in pine forests, on prime rangeland, as well as riparian and even in waste or deserted lands. It prefers moderately fertile, humus rich, moist but well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant has dark red root of blackish appearance externally but blue-red inside, with a whitish core. Root produces a fine red coloring material which has been used as a dye in the Mediterranean region since antiquity. It is also used to give color to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes. The plant has prostrate, branched stems. The stems are covered with long white hairs.


The alternate leaves are about 1-2 inch long and are oblong with rounded tips. Lower leaves are stalked and can grow up to eight inches in length. Leaves in the upper part of the herb are narrow, they can be oblong or lance like in shape, these upper leaves can reach about six inches in length with a width an inch.  The leaves have sparse white hairs on their upper sides, hairs along their margins, and a white “fur” on their undersides.

Flower & Fruit

The plant produces blue to purple trumpet-shaped flowers that are arranged in loose, 1-sided scorpioid racemes.  The corolla is rather small, between funnel and salver-shaped; usually purplish-blue, but in some species yellow or whitish; the calyx enlarges in fruit. Flowering normally takes place from June to July. Flower is followed by minute nut like fruits. The root, which is often very large in proportion to the size of the plant, yields in many of the species a red dye from the rind. Root as a dyestuff is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but is insoluble in water and is used to give color to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes.

Health benefits of Alkanet

According to USDA National Nutrient, alkanet root has proven to be very important part of herbal plant to cure several diseases. Listed below are top health benefits of alkanet root which you can read and learn more in order to add your knowledge especially for your herbal and health information.

1. Good for Heart Health 

Alkanet root is quite helpful to maintain the health of heart. This can be done by soaking alkanet root into the water and extract the essence to be drunk. By doing so, the alkanet root can help to release the poison out of the body and enhance the function of heart to absorb blood.

2. Rheumatic cure

Rheumatic disease is one which normally attack muscle and nerves to be painful and sore felt. Rheumatic can be overcome by continuously applying the essential oil of alkanet along the painful area or routinely consuming the powder to reduce the pain.

3. Cure Headache 

Anti-inflammation effect found on alkanet root help to reduce the tight and slow mode of blood circulation which cause headache on your head. If you have such healthy and flowy smooth blood circulation, then the headache will be gone. Alkanet root with its benefit of anti-inflammation will cure the migraine and headache

4. Reduce Sore 

After sore and painful of rheumatic, the alkanet root is beneficial to reduce the sore due to other cases. One of them is sore of stomach when the woman gets period or more popularly known as dysmenorrhea. When a woman has dysmenorrhea, the stomach will feel very painful that she cannot do anything. Therefore, the anti-inflammation effect of the root can act as anti-sore too to cure this condition.

5. Heal Sleeping Disorder 

Essential oil of alkanet root can help to lessen sleeping disorder like insomnia and chronical worries. By using essential oil of alkanet root before sleeping along your head and under the nose, you will feel relax and calm as the preparation of good sleeping. Do it frequently and you will feel way much easier to get sleep.

6. Hair Treatment

Alkanet root has been proven to be very effective in increasing hair strength since alkanet is natural hair color which is very safe and has no effect on your health. Alkanet root extracted into oil can be very useful to cover hair cuticle, prevent hair fall, and symptom of bald.

7. Maintain Skin Health 

Anti-virus and anti-bacterial features present in alkanet root are very amazing to protect your essential organs of the body, particularly skin. As the most forward body protector, skin is very unsafe of getting suffered by any foreign materials which can create problems such as aging or wrinkle. Applying alkanet root oil or consuming alkanet root powder help you to maintain the skin health and beauty by reducing aging and wrinkle by shadowing the remained scare.

8. Heal Skin Fungi

Alkanet root is quite beneficial for overcoming and healing skin fungi. The root has very effective anti-fungi to particularly heal any diseases related to skin fungi such as phlegm, ringworm, and eczema on your skin disorder.

9. Nail Treatment

Alkanet root is beneficial to prevent the cracking nail and lessen the inflammation happen to the nail. Regular use of essential oil of alkanet root along your nail will prohibit the nail to be irritated, sore, and infected.

10. Herpes Treatment

Alkanet root can also be applied to cure herpes. Herpes is such immunity and skin disorder which lead to a very serious condition of skin scare or skin bleeding due to the open scare. Herpes is caused by virus; thus, in order to heal the disease, you need such anti-virus effect which you can get maximal from alkanet root.

11. Reduce Fever 

Natural cooling character of alkanet root helps to cool down the fever just like what Ayurveda traditional healing do. Moreover, alkanet root can induce the sweat which will fasten the healing process of fever suffering.

12. Control Blood Pressure 

Alkanet root has hypo-tense impact which helps to lessen stress on your cardiovascular system and is very effective to reduce higher blood pressure. This also may help to prevent plague, prohibit heart attack to be happened and reduce the risk of get suffering from stroke disease.

13. Good for Scare 

Alkanet root is helpful to protect the skin from any infection and recover the inflammation. Alkanet root is widely used to heal burn scars since it has the natural ability of anti-inflammation and cooling to absorb the heat out of the skin. This makes alkanet root useful as sunblock and sunburn remover.

14. Helps in Weight Loss 

No need to consume much chemical diet medicine which is not surely safety guaranteed if you want such a slim and shaped body. Consuming alkanet root powder routinely may help you to reduce the excessive weight of the body safety and naturally.

Traditional uses and benefits of Alkanet

  • Root is antibacterial, antipruritic, astringent and vulnerary.
  • It is used externally in the treatment of varicose veins, indolent ulcers, bed sores and itching rashes.
  • It is used internally to treat cough and bronchial catarrh.
  • It is used in the treatment of skin wounds and diarrhea.
  • All plant parts are demulcent and expectorant.
  • It was traditionally used topically for the treatment of skin wounds and diseases.
  • Orally alkanna root has been used for diarrhea and gastric ulcers.
  • Herbal tea made from the alkanet is extensively used as a remedy in modern folk medicine for treating problems like melancholy.
  • Tea is also used to ease the symptoms such as persistent coughing.
  • The tea is also used to promote perspiration and to break a prolonged fever.
  • Alkanet tea is used to soften and soothe irritated skin; it also finds use as a potent diuretic, as well as an astringent and a “blood purifier”.
  • It is used as a topical treatment for the treatment of all kinds of cuts, bruises and phlebitis.
  • The herb is also used in preparing a homeopathic remedy often used in alleviating ulcers in the stomach and duodenum.
  • It is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including jaundice, kidney stones, skin troubles; bruises, wounds, sprains; diarrhea, ulcers, fractures, abscesses.
  • Combined with the resin of Pistacia atlantica, olive oil and laurel, it is used to treat blood clots in the leg.
  • Boiled root is used to treat fractures, abscesses, rheumatism.
  • It is combined with clarified butter to treat wounds; combined with clarified butter and ‘‘atrufān’ to treat burns and infected wounds.
  • It is used as an antiseptic for skin diseases such as eczema, itching and scabies.
  • It is combined with Ferula assa-foetida and Nigella sativa to treat wounds.
  • Decoction, combined with clarified butter, is dropped into the eyes to treat problems there.
  • Fresh leaves are used to treat sore throat.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Alkanet

  • Wounds: Make an ointment of Alkanet root. Apply it locally on wounds.
  • Cough: Prepare a decoction of leaves and root of Alkanet. Take it twice a day for two days.

Culinary Uses

  • Root is used to give color to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes.
  • Alkanet is traditionally used in Indian food under the name “Ratan Jot”, and lends its red color to some versions of the curry dish Rogan Josh.
  • It is used as a vegetable.
  • Red dye obtained from the roots is used as a food coloring.
  • Alkanet leaves are also dried and used in potpourris as they give off a rich and musky fragrance.

Other Facts

  • Root produces a fine red coloring material which has been used as a dye in the Mediterranean region since antiquity.
  • Powdered and mixed with oil, the alkanet root is used as a wood stain.
  • It has been used as colorant for lipstick and rouge (cosmetics).
  • In Australia alkanet is approved for use as a food coloring, but in the European Union it is not.
  • Red dye is obtained from the roots, is used by pharmacists as well as in perfumes and to stain wood or marble.
  • Dye is also used in thermometers and as litmus to test for acids and alkalines.
  • It can make wood look like rosewood or mahogany.
  • Traditionally, French women used the alkanet in powdered form as a temporary make up.
  • Roots of the herb were also used to make a dye utilized in the preparation of many different decorations and staining techniques.


  • Avoid use during pregnancy and breast feeding.
  • Alkanna root may cause acute liver failure, cirrhosis, pneumonitis, pulmonary hypertension, or heart failure.
  • Alkanna root may cause hepatic and/or lung toxicity because of the pyrrolizidine alkaloid components.
  • Root dye must not be consumed for any purpose.
  • For external use only, do not apply to broken skin.














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