White flowers of swallowwort with dark green leaves
[Vincetoxicum hirundinaria.]

Swallowwort: valuable medicinal plant in the winter months

Swallowwort used to be much more popular than it is today. Unfortunately, it ekes out a bit of a niche existence. In the late Middle Ages and early modern times, the plant was used to 'drain the poisons of heated diseases...'. Especially for snake and dog bites the Swabian root was used. Today it is preserved as an ingredient of a few homeopathic or spagyric ready-made mixtures. These are mostly used for viral infections and enjoy great popularity among therapists here though!

Facts about swallowwort

Did you know that...

... the plant was used in the past for snakebites?

... swallowwort was the most important medicinal plant for the treatment of the plague?

... horses eat the plant only after the frost, because of its toxicity?

What is swallowwort?

The swallow-wort is a so-called climbing perennial. It actually grows upright up to 100cm, but if it does not have enough space to grow and is crowded by other plants, then it becomes a twining climbing plant to secure its habitat.
Their roots reach very deep and their yellowish flowers have a distinctive feature: they are clamp trap flowers. In these flowers, the pollen is in small packets, two of which are always connected to each other by a thread. If the insect gets stuck on this thread, they get stuck and have no choice but to tear out the thread together with the two packages hanging on it. Insects that are too weak often fail here and die.
The swallow-wort is native to our country and is very widespread and common, especially in Austria.

General and medicinal properties of swallowroot

The basic knowledge


Swallowwort is antibiotic. It has an inhibitory effect on the multiplication of bacteria and has killing properties. In the past, swallowwort was often used for infected dog bites.


Vincetoxicum is antiviral. Today it is still used mainly as a component of complex remedies, all of which have a virus-inhibiting and expelling effect. It has therefore regained massive importance in recent years, because the virus is on the rise and the remedies against it are limited.


Swallowwort is antipyretic. This allows the body to be kept in an optimal temperature spectrum, so that the immune system functions excellently, but the body does not overheat.


The medicinal plant is diuretic and diaphoretic. In folk medicine today swallow root is still used to promote sweating and urination, and in naturopathic veterinary medicine it is popular for this effect.

Vincetoxicum: Ingredients

The following substances are known to be effective ingredients:

  • Vincetoxin
  • Tylophorin

Swallowwort: effect for body and mind

In earlier times, swallow-wort was used much more than today and also had a much wider range of applications. In the beginning of modern times, it was recommended by Lonicerus in 1564 both for the treatment of animal bites, as a diuretic, for digestive disorders and for swelling of the chest. Others emphasize the detoxifying effect and good efficacy in heart problems.
Today, Vincetoxicum is administered primarily for infections for the purpose of elimination. Especially viral infections are the primary indication here. But also in kidney and bladder infections, swallowwort is used because of its diuretic properties to get the accumulated water out of the body and relieve the heart, among other things.

Vincetoxicum properties

  • Draining
  • Antibacterial
  • Antipyretic
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Sweaty

Fields of application in naturopathy: Vincetoxicum

[Vincetoxicum hirundinaria.]

Due to its many handed down indications, a wide range of possible applications has still been contained to this day. All of them are about infections and discharge in the broadest sense.

Swallowwort for viral infections

For viral infections, swallowwort helps very well. It itself has antiviral activity and helps the body to get rid of the accumulated virus fragments. In addition, it stimulates kidney activity and thus the detoxification capacity of the body.

Vincetoxicum for rheumatism

Rheumatism is a disease in which the body's immune system causes inflammation in the body. This process is called autoimmune inflammation. In naturopathy, this activated immune system is blamed on remnants of past infections or other substances that need to be excreted, as these lower the pH levels of the tissues and thus trigger the inflammation. Swallowwort activates the excretion of infection residues and promotes the kidney in its detoxification capacity. The pH levels rise again and the inflammation is reduced.

Swallowwort for herpes

Herpes diseases originate from different herpes viruses and therefore cause different herpes manifestations. Herpes can therefore appear as cold sores, chicken pox, shingles or similar. All herpes viruses like to stay in the body and come out when the immune system is weak. Swallowwort helps to reduce the amount of herpes viruses and thus relieves the body and its immune system.


Swallowwort for the aftercare of infections

In many infections, remnants of bacteria or viruses remain in the body, which may burden the body. Swallowwort is used at this point to eliminate these remnants, so that the body can leave the infections well behind and these remnants are no longer a burden.

Vincetoxicum for bladder and kidney disease

Swallowwort stimulates kidney and bladder activity. As a result, the kidneys work more intensively, filter the blood better and produce more urine. This urine eliminates metabolic waste products and also flushes the urogenital tract. Especially in the case of ascending infections of the urogenital tract, such as cystitis, it is elementarily important that the urinary tract is flushed. This allows the pathogens to be eliminated and makes it very difficult for them to settle in the mucous membranes.

Notes on the use of swallowwort

Today, swallow-wort is used only in finished medicines because of suspected toxicity. These are usually taken several times a day as described in the package insert.

Swallowwort during pregnancy & lactation

Homeopathic or spagyric preparations should be unproblematic, but there are no studies on this. The ingestion of the plant itself is generally not recommended.

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Use the healing power of Vincetoxicum!

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white flower of swallowwort with green leaves



Botanical name

Vincetoxicum hirundinaria

Plant family

Dog Poisons

Other designations

white swallow root, dogbane


May till August

Harvest time

at the height of flowering





Flower color


Flower shape


Leaf color

light green-yellowish

Leaf shape

long, lanceolate

Sheet properties

strongly veined

Soil type

loose, stony, clay and loam soils

Soil moisture

moderately humid



Lime compatibility

very good

Nutrient requirements




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