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Adonis vernalis, also known as Adonis apennina, yellow pheasant's eye or false hellebore, is an attractive, perennial plant with delicate sessile leaves and bright yellow flowers. The flowers, which bloom in the spring, are around 3 inches (8 cm) wide and have up to 20 or 24 oblong petals with toothed edges. The entire plant grows up to 12 or 15 inches (30.48 cm or 38.1 cm) high, and is found in the elevated meadows and steppes of Southern Europe, Russia and North-Eastern USA. It is a protected species in these regions as it cannot be cultivated and has particular medicinal value; plant extracts are used in various herbal remedies and in homeopathic medicine. There are restrictions on how often the plant can be picked, the usual harvesting allotment being every three years.
The Adonis vernalis plant is first dried and then crushed into powder. It cannot be stored for an extended time and must be used soon after it is harvested. The powder may be used as it is, or it may be processed into tablets and tinctures.
Traditionally, peasants have used Adonis vernalis as a home herbal remedy for edema, cardiac dropsy and several other heart-related problems. Later, scientific research was carried out on the plant and revealed it to be a source of two important cardiostimulant compounds: the yellowish crystalline aconitic acid and the colorless crystalline adonidine that was extracted from it. As these plant extracts can be as effective as digitalis to treat cardiac problems and are not cumulative, they are now used in many proprietary medicines.
Homeopathy practitioners recommend the use of Adonis vernalis as a cardiotonic and to stimulate heart muscles, which can help cases of weakened heart action by bringing about increased arterial contraction and tension. The herb remedy is also used to treat irregular heart-beats, obstructions in the heart valves, varicosed ulcers and low blood pressure problems. People with kidney problems can benefit from these herbal remedies too as they have diuretic properties and prevent water retention. Adonis vernalis plant extracts have also been used to treat epilepsy.
It is advisable to take Adonis vernalis herbal remedies under the guidance of an experienced homeopathic medicine practitioner, and only in prescribed doses. Further health problems are likely to arise if the herb remedy is not administered with due caution. Large doses of the plant extracts, for instance, can cause vomiting, can exacerbate any existing gastro-intestinal problems, and can paralyze the heart.
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