Traditional uses of Mandrake

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Mandrake Quick Facts
Name: Mandrake
Scientific Name: Mandragora officinarum
Origin Mediterranean Sea, within the borders of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in north Africa; southern Spain, southern Portugal, Italy included Sardinia and Sicily
Colors Glossy yellow to orange
Shapes Small berry, shaped like a globe or an ellipsoid (i.e. longer than wide), with a very variable diameter of 5–40 mm (0.2–1.6 in)
Mandragora officinarum popularly known as Satan’s apple or mandrake is a perennial plant belonging to Solanaceae – Potato family. The plant has a chubby root resembling that of a parsnip. The root of this plant bifurcates resembling a pair of legs. The plant is native to Mediterranean Sea, within the borders of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in North Africa; southern Spain, southern Portugal, Italy included Sardinia and Sicily, (Niccolò Machiavelli wrote a novel about it), former Yugoslavia, Greece and Cyprus in southern Europe; southern Turkey; Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan in the Levant. Mandrake, Satan’s Apple, Love Apple, Devil’s Apple, autumn mandrake, Mediterranean mandrake, Master of the life breath, Mad Apple, Hog apple, May apple, American mandrake, Indian apple, Duck’s foot, Ground lemon, Mandragora, Wild lemon and Racoonberry are some of the popular common names of the plant.

The term mandrake also is commonly used for the roots of these plants, which contain poisonous alkaloids and have been used medicinally for their anodyne (relieves pain through external application) and soporific properties, but also can lead to delirium and hallucinations. Mandrake plant was used widely in magic because of its amazing medicinal properties. Both legends and folklore associated with this plant for good and bad showed the significance of this herb. Mandrake root has been using in cooking since ancient times. Ancient people realized its aphrodisiac properties. They used it as a remedy for impotence. It used to reduce pain and calm down nerves.

Mandrake Facts

Name Mandrake
Scientific Name Mandragora officinarum
Native Mediterranean Sea, within the borders of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in north Africa; southern Spain, southern Portugal, Italy included Sardinia and Sicily, (Niccolò Machiavelli wrote a novel about it), former Yugoslavia, Greece and Cyprus in southern Europe; southern Turkey; Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan in the Levant
Common Names Mandrake, Satan’s Apple, Love Apple, Devil’s Apple, autumn mandrake, Mediterranean mandrake, Master of the life breath, Mad Apple, Hog apple, May apple, American mandrake, Indian apple, Duck’s foot, Ground lemon, Mandragora, Wild lemon and Racoonberry
Name in Other Languages Albanian: Madërgonë
Afrikaans: Mandrake
Amharic: Manidaraki (ማንዳራክ)
Arabic: Allifah naba’at (اللفاح نبات), yabruh tibiy  (يبروح طبي)
Armenian: Mandrake
Azerbaijani: Adamkökü, Dərman mandraqorası
Basque: Mandrake
Belarusian: Mandragora (мандрагора)
Bengali: Mandrake
Bosnian: Mandragora
Breton: Mandragon
Bulgarian: Mandragora (мандрагора)
Catalan: Mandràgora
Cebuano: Mandragora
Chichewa: Mawudzu
Chinese: Màn dé lā (曼德拉)
Corsican: Mandragora
Croatian: Mandragora
Czech: Mandragora
Danish: Mandrake, Almindelig Alrune
Dutch: Alruin
English: Mandrake, Mediterranean mandrake, Autumn mandrake
Esperanto: Mandrágora
Estonian: Mandrake, Harilik alraun
Filipino: Halaman ng mendreik
Finnish: Alruuna, Rohtomandrake
French: Mandragore
Frisian: Mandrake
Galician: Mandrágora
German: Mandrake, Alraunwurzel, Echte Alraune, Gemeine Alraune
Georgian: Mandrake
Gujarati: Mandrake
Greek: Mandragóras (μανδραγόρας)
Haitian Creole: Mandragor
Hausa: Manta uwa
Hawaiian: Mandrake
Hebrew: דוּדָא, דודא רפואי
Hindi: Ek vishaila paudha (एक विषैला पौधा), Bhagener, Lakmani (लकमनी)
Hmong: Mandrake
Hungarian: Mandragóra, Közönséges mandragóra
Icelandic: Mandrake
Igbo: Mandrake
Indonesian: Mandrake
Irish: Mandrake
Italian: Mandragora, mandragora primaverile
Japanese: Mandoreiku (マンドレイク)
Javanese: Mandrake
Kannada: Rakta bindu (ರಕ್ತ ಬಿಂದು), Lakshmana
Kazakh: Mandrake
Khmer: Phle sne (ផ្លែស្នេហ៍)
Kinyarwanda: Mandrake
Korean: Man deuleikeu (만 드레이크 )
Kurdish (Kurmanji): Mandrake
Kyrgyz: Mandrake
Lao: Mandrake
Latin: Mandragorae
Latvian: Mandragora
Lithuanian: Mandrake
Luxembourgish: Mandrake
Macedonian: Mandrake
Malagasy: Mandrake
Malay: Mandrake
Malayalam: Mānḍrēkk  (മാൻഡ്രേക്ക്)
Maltese: Mandrake
Maori: Manitareki i
Marathi: Ēka viṣārī auṣadhōpayōgī vanaspatī  (एक विषारी औषधोपयोगी वनस्पती)
Mongolian: Mandrak  (Мандрак)
Myanmar (Burmese): aanu sayy see (အနုဆေးသီး)
Norwegian: Mandrake
Odia: Mandrake
Pashto: مینڈریک
Persian: مهر گیا, مندراگورا آفیسیناروم
Polish: Mandragora
Portuguese: Mandrágora
Punjabi                : Maiṇḍarakē (ਮੈਂਡਰਕੇ)
Romanian: Mandrake
Russian: Mandragora (мандрагора), Mandragora lekarstvennaya  (Мандрагора лекарственная), mandragora vesennyaya (мандрагора весенняя)
Samoan: Mandrake
Sanskrit: Laksmana (लक्षमण), Putrada, Raktavindu (रक्तवॆन्दु)
Scots Gaelic: Mandrake
Serbian: Mmandragora (мандрагора)
Sesotho: Mandrake li
Shona: Mandrake
Sindhi: منڊل
Sinhala: Mandrake
Slovak: Mandragora
Slovenian: Mandrake
Somali: Mandrake
Spanish                : Mandrágora
Sudanese: Mandrake
Swahili: Mandrake
Swedish: Alruna
Tajik: Mandrake
Tamil: Mayakkam uṇṭākkum ceṭi (மயக்கம் உண்டாக்கும் செடி), Katal jati, Katavjate
Tatar: Mandrak (мандрак)
Telugu: Māṇḍrēk (మాండ్రేక్), Mantrika, Saitanu Pandu, Prema Pandu, Deyyapu Kaya
Thai: T̂n mæn drekh (ต้นแมนดเรค)
Turkish: Kankurutan, abdülselam otu
Turkmen: Mandrake
Ukrainian: Mandrahora (мандрагора)
Urdu: Luffah (مینڈریک)
Uyghur: Mandrake
Uzbek: Mandrake
Vietnamese: Mướn
Walloon: Harloucrale
Welsh: Mandrake
Xhosa: Imandrake
Yiddish: Mandrake  (מאַנדראַקע)
Yoruba: Mandrake
Zulu: Mandrake
Plant Growth Habit Virtually stemless, herbaceous perennial plant
Growing Climates Open woodland, deserted fields, stony places, open habitats, such as light woodland and disturbed sites, including olive groves, fallow land, waysides, railway embankments, ruins, crevices
Plant Size 0.1 m (0ft 4in) tall and 0.3 m (1ft) wide
Root Long, thick tap roots are somewhat carrot-shaped and can be up to 1.2 meters long. The root often divides into two and is vaguely suggestive of the human body
Stem Almost no stem
In Leaf March to July
Leaf Leaves are very variable in size and shape, with a maximum length of 45 cm (18 in). They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end (obovate), with varying degrees of hairiness
Flowering season March to April
Flower Five sepals are 6–28 mm (0.2–1.1 in) long, fused together at the base and then forming free lobes to about a half to two-thirds of their total length. The five petals are greenish white to pale blue or violet in color, 12–65 mm (0.5–2.6 in) long, and, like the sepals, joined together at the base with free lobes at the end
Fruit Shape & Size Small berry, shaped like a globe or an ellipsoid (i.e. longer than wide), with a very variable diameter of 5–40 mm (0.2–1.6 in).
Fruit Color Glossy, and yellow to orange
Flavor/Aroma Strong apple-like scent
Propagation By seeds
Season July to August

Plant Description

Mandrake is a virtually stem less, herbaceous perennial plant that normally grows about 0.1 m (0ft 4in) tall and 0.3 m (1ft) wide. The plant is found growing in open woodland, deserted fields, stony places, open habitats, such as light woodland and disturbed sites, including olive groves, fallow land, waysides, railway embankments, ruins and crevices. The plant has long, thick tap roots that are somewhat carrot-shaped and can be up to 1.2 meters long. The root often divides into two and is vaguely suggestive of the human body and has long had medicinal, mystical, and magical properties associated with it. The plant almost has no stem.

Leaves

The plant almost has no stem. Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large, dark-green leaves, which at first stand erect, but when grown to full size a foot or more in length and 4-5 inches in width – spread open and lie upon the ground. The leaves are very variable in size and shape, with a maximum length of 45 cm (18 in). They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end (obovate), with varying degrees of hairiness. They are sharp pointed at the apex and of an unpleasant odor.

Flowers

The flowers appear from autumn to spring (September to April). They are borne in the axils of the leaves. The flower stalks (pedicels) are also very variable in length, up to 45 cm (18 in) long. The five sepals are 6–28 mm (0.2–1.1 in) long, fused together at the base and then forming free lobes to about a half to two-thirds of their total length. The five petals are greenish white to pale blue or violet in color, 12–65 mm (0.5–2.6 in) long, and, like the sepals, joined together at the base with free lobes at the end. The lobes are between half as long as the petals to almost as long. The five stamens are joined to the bases of the petals and vary in length from 7 to 15 mm (0.3 to 0.6 in). The anthers of the stamens are usually yellow or brown, but are sometimes pale blue.

Fruits

The fruit which forms in late autumn to early summer (November to June) is a small berry, shaped like a globe or an ellipsoid (i.e. longer than wide), with a very variable diameter of 5–40 mm (0.2–1.6 in). When ripe, the fruit is glossy, and yellow to orange, full of pulp and with a strong, apple-like scent – somewhat resembling a small tomato. It contains yellow to light brown seeds, 2.5–6 mm (0.10–0.24 in) long.

Traditional uses and benefits of Mandrake

  • It is also used to treat travel sickness.
  • Fresh or dried root contains highly poisonous alkaloids and is cathartic, strongly emetic, hallucinogenic and narcotic.
  • In sufficient quantities it induces a state of oblivion and was used as an anaesthetic for operations in early surgery.
  • It was much used in the past for its anodyne and soporific properties.
  • In the past, juice from the finely grated root was applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains, ulcers and scrofulous tumors.
  • It was also used internally to treat melancholy, convulsions and mania.
  • When taken internally in large doses, however, it is said to excite delirium and madness.
  • Leaves are harmless and cooling, it has been used for ointments and other external applications to ulcers etc.
  • In the past, mandrake was often made into amulets which were believed to bring good fortune and cure sterility.
  • Herbal mandrake was thought to have great powers and was used to cure nearly any ailment, from constipation and colic to convulsions.
  • It is a wonderful home remedy to treat stomach ulcers.
  • People with the problem of whooping cough, hay fever, or asthma can relieve the symptoms with this plant.
  • It is a wonderful remedy for constipation.
  • This root is also useful to reduce pain, including arthritis-related pain.
  • It is also effective for increasing interest in sexual activity.
  • Its many uses include the treatment of jaundice, bilious as well as fever.
  • Mandragora is also used to treat cancer, therefore making it a good herbal cancer remedy.
  • It is one of the best herbal treatments for liver diseases, bowels conditions as well as inflammation, varicose veins, promote libido and ulcers.
  • The herb was also used internally to cure depression, spasms as well as obsession.
  • Dehydrated bark of the plant’s root was also given to patients as a forceful emetic.
  • They mainly used the herb to obtain rest and sleep when suffering from persistent pain.
  • The ancients also used the herb in small doses to treat maniacal problems.

Other Facts

  • In one superstition, people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it.
  • In the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the roots from the soil.
  • An extract of the roots is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner and tonic.
  • Sale of mandrake is prohibited in some countries, and modern uses for mandrake are limited.
  • Centuries ago, however, women believed this bizarre-looking plant could induct conception, and baby-shaped roots were placed under the pillow.
  • Uses for mandrake included predicting the future and offering protection for soldiers going into battle.
  • Herbal mandrake was also used as a love potion and aphrodisiac.
  • It was widely implemented in religious practices and to drive away evil spirits or poison one’s enemies.

Precautions

  • All parts of the plant are poisonous.
  • Effects of consumption of include severe symptoms similar to those of atropine poisoning, including blurred vision, dilation of the pupils (mydriasis), dryness of the mouth, and difficulty in urinating, dizziness, headache, vomiting, blushing and a rapid heart rate (tachycardia).
  • Hyperactivity and hallucinations also occurred in the majority of patients.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=505823#null
https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=MAOF
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mandragora+officinarum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandragora_officinarum
http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Mandrake.html
http://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Mandragora+officinarum
https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/MNDOF
http://tn-grin.nat.tn/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=23342
http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2506563

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