Lovage, the lubbestick

“Among the fragrant greenery, I also praise the strong lovage, my love goes to everything in the garden. Although it harms the pair of eyes in taste and smell and is said to reduce vision, the seeds are part of many medicines and it contributes to other people’s name and fame”. This is what it sounds like around 840 in De cultura hortorum by Walahfrid Strabo. Lavas used to be famous for its medicinal properties, as the name suggests, as Levisticum may be derived from the Latin ‘levare’, to relieve.


The Romans used to chew the seed to aid digestion. It is also said that lovage acts as a deodorant when used externally as well as internally. Adding a strong decoction of the root to the bath water makes the body fragrant and is said to remove odors. I think it would be interesting to investigate this effect further. Magical deodorants are also being made: black tea powder and lovage seed powder tied in muslin. A scented ball to rub or tie under the armpits?

Around 800 he ended up in the monastery garden of St. Gallen and in the imperial gardens of Charlemagne. The School of Salerno recommended Lavas in the 16th century as a means to promote menstruation. In his CruydBoeck, Dodoens talks about Ligusticum and Levisticum, with Ligisticum apparently having a greater reputation at the time. He called the lavas we know today ‘In Hoochduytsch Lybstockel. In Brabant Lavetse / to some places Levistock. In Franchois Livesche. The root and the seed of Lavetse are dried up and drunk with wine and the weather that may / soothe that pain and the sorrow / and quiet that inflating them and the wind of the self. These themselves take root and release that urine and generate that natural crankiness of women internalized / or when a person sits in water and bathes in a sweet cup there. In sum, Lavetse is made of energy and works with the Ligusticum seer ghelijck / and the power for it be consumed without error. The water from Lavetse distills makes the appearance clearer and clean/ and removes all spots/ freckles/ and turns red as it appears when washed with it.

Lovage used to belong to the so-called fifteenth kind of herbs from the kruidwis, they were consecrated on the altar and then hung in the house to ward off all evil. In case of conjured illness, such a nosegay was boiled in holy water for 5 hours. Then one would have good bath water, because holy water is March rainwater or melted March snow and is much richer in nitrogen than at other times of the year and very medicinal.

Botanical features

Lovage is a perennial herb that can grow up to 2 m tall after a few years; the stem is hollow; leaves glossy green, large, planted at the base of the branches, triangular in outline, 2-3 times pinnate with diamond-shaped leaves (serrate); flowers yellowish (July-August), in 8-15-ray umbels with reverted involucres and involucres; Fruit ovoid with 10 winged ribs, resemble caraway seeds, they turn brown when ripening. The root is brownish, thick and fleshy and bears several stems with thin adventitious roots. The leaf, root and seed all have a strong celery-like smell.

Lovage as a medicinal herb

As a medicinal herb, lovage has been virtually forgotten. Yet Lavas also had a great reputation.
In the past, lovage was not lacking in any herb garden, the ‘oleum levistici’ was extracted from the root. This lovage oil helped against a wide variety of ailments, from lung disease to hysteria. According to Mellie Uyldert, the herb was also known as aphrodisiac, which is not surprising, the plant may have a stimulating effect on the abdominal organs, skin and nerves. Many names refer to this aphrodisiac effect: lubbestok, manpower, even love parsley can be found, as well as the German Liebstockel and the English love parsley.

Active substances

  • Essential oil 0.1 to 0.5% fresh and up to 1% in dried root, consists mainly of phthalides that cause the odor (Gijbels M, et al. Planta Medica 1982;44)
  • Coumarin glycosides, furanocoumarins: umbelliferone, bergaptene.. photosensitizing
  • Sitosterols: beta-sitosterol

The leaves and especially the root certainly have a diuretic effect, so can be used for edema, bladder and kidney ailments, and kidney stones. The plant may combine the qualities of fennel, celery and angelica.

A diuretic recipe: Species diuretics DAB 6

Levistici radix conc. Lavas 25
Ononidis radix conc. Kattedoorn 25Liquiritae radix conc. Licorice 25Juniperi fructus conc. Juniper berry 25

The root is still used as a diuretic, but it is as a culinary herb and as an essential oil that lovage has regained its fame.