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Botanical name

Spiny Restharrow - Ononis spinosa L.


Legume/Pea family (Fabaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The spiny restharrow is a European plant with sub-oceanic dissemination. It stretches from France (not the Atlantic coast) in the west to Poland and Romania in the east, north to southern Scotland and southern Scandinavia, in the south to the Pyrenees and central Italy. It grows mostly in forests and on roadsides and in dry meadows. The genus name is derived from the Greek "ono" (= donkey), because the young leaf shoots give off an unpleasant "goat-like smell", the epithet spinosa refers to the sharp spines (Latin "spinosus" = full of thorns). The restharrow is a 20 to 60cm tall perennial with numerous erect, woody spiny branches at the base and it grows as a "hard" plant in the meadow. The leaves are small and oblong, the butterfly-shaped flowers are pink and are in loose clusters, flowering time is June/July. The fruits ripen into 2cm long soft hairy pods.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried roots are used. The commercial drug is collected in the wild in Southeastern Europe.

Ingredients of the drug

Restharrow contains triterpenes, sterols, and isoflavones.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of Restharrow (Ononidis radix) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

For flushing in inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract. As flushing method for the prevention and treatment of renal gravel (Commission E, ESCOP). ESCOP mentions additional supportive treatment of bacterial infections in the urinary tract.

Traditional use

Traditionally used to support the excretory function of the kidneys (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • chopped or coarsely powdered restharrow as tea
  • dried extracts in tablets and instant teas
  • alcoholic extracts in liquids


Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of restharrow root tea 2 to 4 times daily; mean daily dose 6 to 12 grams of the drug, good combined with others drugs such as True goldenrod herb, Orthosiphon leaves, Birch leaves and Nettle leaves (Bladder and Kidney, diuretic tea).

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 2 to 2.5g of finely chopped or coarsely powdered Restharrow and strain after 20 to 30 minutes.


A flushing therapy with Restharrow must not be performed if there is oedema due to impaired heart and kidney function. The intake of fluids should be high with a flushing therapy. There is no experience on the harmlessness of the use of Restharrow during pregnancy and breast-feeding as well as its use in children under 12 years old.

Side effects

None known


None known


Drug monographs

Commission E, ESCOP

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 473
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 117
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 220
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Restharrow root, no. 1879)

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