Ammi dilatatum St.-Lag.
Apium visnaga (L.) Crantz
Carum visnaga (L.) Koso-Pol.
Daucus gingidium L. ex DC.
Daucus laevis Salisb.
Daucus visnaga L.
Selinum visnaga Krause
Sium visnaga (L.) Stokes
Visnaga daucoides Gaertn.
Visnaga vera Raf.
Common Name: Visnaga
Ammi visnaga is an erect annual to biennial plant with a much-branched stem; it can grow up to 1 metre tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine, food and source of materials. It is often cultivated commercially for the pharmaceutical industry as a source of 'khellin', which is used in various medications, especially in the treatment of asthma. The fruiting pedicels are sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets[
Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people[
Southern Europe - Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Albania, Greece; N. Africa - Morocco to Egypt, W. Asia - Turkey to Israel, east to Iran
Fields and sandy places[
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Ammi visnaga is not fully winter-hardy outside the milder areas of the temperate zone, though it should be possible to grow it in most regions as a spring-sown annual[
Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position[
], succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3.
Leaves - raw[
]. Chewed for their pleasant aromatic flavour[
Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones[
]. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use[
Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made[
]. Khellin is commercially available in tablets and injection - it is a potent selective coronary vasodilator and bronchodilator and is used in the treatment of coronary insufficiency, angina pectoris, bronchial asthma, vitiligo and psoriasis, and for the removal of small bladder and kidney stones[
The seeds are diuretic, emmenagogue and lithontripic[
]. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance 'khellin'. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma[
]. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles[
], they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure[
]. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects[
]. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones[
]. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder[
The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use[
The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick[
] whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner[
Seed - sow in situ. In mild-winter areas the plant is usually sown in the autumn, but can be sown in the spring in areas with cold winters.