What Is Lovage?

May Promote Urinary Health

Lovage (Levisticum officinale Koch.) is a herb in the family Apiaceae. It is a plant that smells like celery and originates from Iran and Afghanistan but is grown in temperate regions worldwide. Lovage has been used as a diuretic (rids the body of water) and an antimicrobial; it may affect menstruation.

lovage plant
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This article discusses the potential uses of lovage, risk factors associated with taking it, and side effects.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs.com, or NSF International. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Phthalides, coumarins, phenylpropanoids, polyacetylenes
  • Alternate name(s): Levisticum officinale Koch
  • Legal status: Legal, generally recognized as safe (GRAS)
  • Suggested dose: 4-8 grams daily, tea 4.5 grams in 1 cup of hot water
  • Safety considerations: Minimize exposure to the sun, do not take if pregnant or if you have reduced kidney or heart function

Uses of Lovage

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Lovage has been used in traditional medicines. It is also used as an additive to food as a flavor enhancer. Lovage contains several compounds, some of which are phthalides and coumarins. Along with these are also polyphenols. The diversity of these compounds has led to many studies on the uses of lovage. There is not enough clinical research on the uses of lovage, but it has been traditionally used to treat many health conditions, including:

Cystinuria

A 2016 study of 18 participants on the effectiveness of lovage on cystinuria (a rare hereditary condition involving bladder and kidney stones) found that lovage reduced cysteine and creatinine levels in people with hereditary cystinuria. The study authors noted that more studies involving a larger number of participants with cystinuria would be advantageous.

Urinary Tract Health

A 2012 study published by the European Medicines Agency found that data were sufficient to back claims that lovage works as an effective agent in increasing urine to flush the urinary tract in minor conditions. However, the data on acute (severe short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxicity, carcinogenicity (cancer-causing), and reproductive and developmental toxicity were lacking. Due to the lack of data on long-term safety, the use of lovage root was not recommended by the study authors.

In addition to the use listed above, preliminary study results back up some of the touted uses of lovage:

  • Diuretic effect
  • Antibacterial effect
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Anti-cancer effect

What Are the Side Effects of Lovage?

Overall, there are very few known serious side effects of lovage. It has been listed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA for its use as a food additive. There are a few side effects commonly agreed upon, but little research has been completed to verify these claims.

Common Side Effects

  • Dermatitis: During harvesting, dermatitis can be a side effect of lovage. This is understood to be the result of the same compound that causes photosensitivity, furocoumarins.
  • Menstruation-inducing (causing): Lovage contains a property that induces shedding of the uterine lining. Thus, the herb may cause menstruation.
  • Photosensitivity: It has been noted that the compound furocoumarins can cause photosensitivity. This is widely accepted; as such, it is suggested that exposure to UV rays be limited when using lovage. Note that little research exists on this effect of photosensitivity. Further studies need to be completed to make this a conclusive statement.

Severe Side Effects

There have been no reports of severe side effects when using lovage. There is a possibility of allergic reactions, as allergic reactions exist in plants in the Apiaceae family. However, data from clinical studies about the side effects of lovage are lacking.

Lovage should not be used by children or taken while pregnant or nursing unless a qualified healthcare provider has advised you to do so.

Because lovage is considered a diuretic, caution should be taken for anyone with heart or kidney problems. Due to its irritating effects on tissue, its use should also be avoided by individuals with impaired kidney function. In general, lovage should not be used by anyone with a medical condition without first consulting with a healthcare provider.

Precautions

It should be noted that lovage is considered to be generally safe but is not suited for everyone. In some cases, it is not recommended to use lovage.

Use of lovage is not recommended for those with inflammatory kidney disease, impaired kidney function, or impaired heart function. Pregnant people are discouraged from using lovage because of its effect on inducing menstruation.

No clinical research exists about the effects of lovage on children and adolescents. For this reason, it is not recommended for children or adolescents under 18.

Avoid using lovage if you are allergic or hypersensitive to Levisticum officinale, its components, or plants in the Apiaceae family.

Dosage: How Much Lovage Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage is appropriate for your individual needs.

Dosage

While you should consult with your healthcare provider before taking any dose of lovage, common dosages include the following, which should generally not extend beyond two to four weeks of consecutive use:

  • Four to 8 grams daily
  • As a tincture, taken in doses of 0.5 to 2 milliliters three times daily
  • As a tea, prepared with 2 to 3 grams of lovage root and 1 cup of hot water (left to soak for 15 to 20 minutes), ingested three times per day

What Happens If I Take Too Much Lovage?

There are no available data about the toxicity of lovage. However, the properties known about the herb do offer guidance about potential risks with extended use or exposure to lovage.

Excessive use of lovage root oil can lead to skin irritation. Research shows there is a risk for toxicity with skin irritation in lovage root oil. Lovage and all other plants in the Apiaceae family contain furanocoumarins. Furanocoumarins react to UV rays, resulting in photosensitivity.

Avoid taking other photosensitizing herbs when using lovage. Such herbs to avoid would be other plants in the Apiaceae family, St. John's Wort, and kava.

Interactions

There are no reported drug interactions with lovage. That being said, certain properties of lovage may have effects on certain types of medications. When discussing medications with a healthcare provider, it is important to let them know lovage is being used.

Lovage has a diuretic effect. Those who are taking diuretics, such as Lasix (furosemide) and others should not use lovage. 

Some herbs and supplements also have diuretic effects and should be taken with caution when using lovage. Such supplements are parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).

Using lovage while on diuretics could result in losing too much body fluid. Loss of too much body fluid may cause an adverse reaction, including symptoms such as dizziness and low blood pressure.

Coumarins, which inhibit blood clotting, are also present in lovage. Those who take anticoagulants, such as Jantoven (warfarin) and others in this drug class, should avoid the use of lovage because they may interact with anticoagulants.

The effect of thinning the blood is also present in some herbs and supplements. Some supplements with this property are fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), red clover (Trifolium pratense), dong quai (Angelica sinensis), and chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Taking these supplements along with lovage could increase bleeding time and blood loss risk.

Excessive blood loss can be life-threatening. For this same reason, avoid consuming ginger, vitamin E, garlic, turmeric, and fish oil when using lovage.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients are present and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Lovage

Store lovage in sealed polyethylene bags at room temperature for no longer than 12 days. Analysis of processed lovage stored in sealed polyethylene bags at room temperature for 12 days showed no significant changes.

It is best to follow storage instructions on indicated packages of lovage. Also follow package instructions on how to properly discard lovage.

Similar Supplements

Similar supplements should NOT be taken alongside lovage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is is safe to take lovage every day?

    Guidelines state to take it once to three times daily. There is no clinical research to support these guidelines. Therefore, it is always best to consult a healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement.

  • What does lovage taste like?

    The taste of lovage has been compared to celery. It is said to be stronger and sweeter in taste than celery.

  • What part of the lovage plant is edible?

    Much of the plant can be eaten. The leaves, stems, and roots are edible.

  • Can I use lovage during mestruation?

    Lovage is known to traditionally induce menstruation. Little is said about lovage during menstruation. One thing to note is that lovage may lessen pain during menstruation.

Sources of Lovage and What to Look For

Lovage is widely available. Sources of lovage include the plant, tea, and essential oils.

Food Sources of Lovage

The lovage plant grows wild in several parts of Europe and Asia. It can also be found wild in some eastern parts of the United States. However, in some areas, its natural habitat is threatened. Lovage is grown domestically because of the threat to its natural habitat. This perennial plant can be grown for landscaping or cooking. The leaves of the lovage plant can be used fresh or dried. Fresh leaves can be used in soups or salads or to flavor dishes.

Around the world, lovage is commonly used as a spice when cooking. The extracts from lovage have also been used as flavoring additives in food. These extracts are considered generally safe and have been identified as GRAS by the Food and Drug Administration.

While lovage is a hardy growing plant that can survive for up to eight years, it’s not advisable to use parts of plants that have been growing for extended periods because the plant loses its potency with age. 

Lovage Supplements

Besides eating lovage, it's available as tea and essential oil. Countries around the world have been drinking lovage tea for centuries. Its use has been found documented in ancient Greek writings.

Dried leaves and roots of the lovage plant are used for tea and decoctions. For decoctions, it is suggested to mix with water or milk. Teas are instilled in hot water, steeped for 10-15 minutes, and then the dried leaves and roots are removed, leaving the tea for drinking.

Essential oils of lovage are extractions of the plant. They are traditionally used to treat wounds. These claims have not been recently researched.

Summary

Lovage has been used as a diuretic and an antimicrobial, and it may induce menstruation. However, further clinical studies are needed to confirm these uses.

As with all supplements and plant medicines, it's essential to discuss the use of lovage with your healthcare provider before taking it. This conversation is especially important if you have a health condition or are taking any medications, other plant medicines, or dietary supplements.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Dawn Sheldon, RN
Dawn Sheldon, RN, is a registered nurse and health writer. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and empowering others.