Bitter Milkwort

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

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


Bitter milkwort is a plant. The flowering plant and root are used to make medicine.

People take bitter milkwort for breathing problems, cough, and bronchitis.

Don’t confuse bitter milkwort (Polygala amara) with asarabacca (Asarum europaeum) or senega (Polygala senega). All three plants are sometimes called snakeroot.

How does it work?

Bitter milkwort has chemicals that help to break up chest congestion by thinning mucous and making it easier to cough up (use as an expectorant).


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Lung problems.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Cough.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bitter milkwort for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

There isn't enough information to know if bitter milkwort is safe .


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of bitter milkwort during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The appropriate dose of bitter milkwort depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bitter milkwort. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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