Bitter Milkwort | Polygala Amara

Other Names

Bitter Milkwort, European Bitter Polygala, European Senega Snakeroot, Evergreen Snakeroot, Flowering Wintergreen, Little Pollom, European Bitter Polygala, European Senega, Evergreen Snakeroot, Flowering Wintergreen, Little Pollom, Polygala Amara, Polygala Amère, Polygale Amer, Snakeroot.


Bitter Milkwort is a flowering plant that grows in many parts of the globe especially in temperate zones and the tropics. It was first thought to increase milk yields in cattle. The roots have a scent that is similar to wintergreen. The leaf blades are smooth edged and undivided. Its flowers are usually reddish purple, yellow or white. The fruit is a capsule that is sometimes winged in appearance which contains two black seeds.


Triterpenoid saponins, volatile oil, gaultherin, mucilage, phenolic acids, methyl salicylate, polygalitol, plant sterols, polygalic acid

Collection period

June to August

Used Parts

Flowering plant and roots


  • Bladder disorders,

  • Kidney disorders,

  • Bronchial asthma,

  • Chronic bronchitis,

  • Convulsive cough,

  • Diaphoretic,

  • Diuretic,

  • Emollient,

  • Galactogogue,

  • Mildly expectorant,

  • Treats stomach upsets,

  • Whooping cough


Used as a spice, it is harvested and dried for later use. The extracts can act as an expectorant to thin and loosen phlegm, stimulate the sweat glands and to increase perspiration.


What was first thought of to be helpful in cleansing the system is no longer used now, bitter milkwort can be harmful in large doses. Early tribes used to induce abortions with the milkwort roots. Being an expectorant, it is especially effective when used to thin out phlegm and address various cough.

Side Effects

At least one member of the genus is said to be poisonous. Another side effect is vomiting and diarrhea.


  • Natural Medicinal Herbs, Bitter Milkwort:

  • Medicine, Bitter Milkwort:


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