The origins of Iberis amara
The rocky shores of the Mediterranean Sea were the perfect ground for this highly adaptable plant. Nowadays it’s often used to fill out rock gardens across Europe, with its tiny lacy white flowers, which are a perfect companion for late blooming plants. Each candytuft flower has four different-sized white petals, resembling a small bow.
Iberis amara’s has a sweet smell but tastes quite bitter – and this is part of its name. It derives from the latin word “amarus”, which means bitter. The genus name “Iberis” is Greek and means "cress". It is also possible, however, that the name comes from the ancient Romanic name of Spain (Iberia), where the plant grew and, as already mentioned, found its first known patient.
The name “bitter candytuft” also reminds of its origins, even though it’s reminiscent of the other side of the Mediterranean. “Candytuft” isn’t connected to sweet-tasting sweets, but to Candia, one of the old names for Heraklion, the biggest city on the island of Creta, where the plant used to grow in abundance.
Nowadays the plant is classified as endangered in some countries, as agriculture has taken over a big part of its natural habitat.
The effect of Iberis amara on the gastrointestinal tract
The medicinal plant has the extraordinary ability to affect the gastrointestinal motility. Its bitter extract has a tonicizing effect on slack muscles such as in the lower, transporter area of the stomach. This last property can help counteract feelings of fullness.
As part of Iberogast®, the extracts from dried bitter candytuft flowers can quickly combat feelings of fullness, while additionally regulating acid production and contributing to protect the mucosa and thus, might relieve heartburn. Iberis amara also protects against the formation of free radicals thanks to the plant substances it contains. Patients suffering from functional GI disorders may also benefit from the medicinal plant in Iberogast® due to its tonicizing effect on the intestinal musculature.
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