The thick-leaved incense, or the saxifrage thick-leaved, or the Mongolian tea (Latin Bergénia crassifólia or Bergenia ligulata) is a perennial herbaceous plant, a typical species of the Badan (Bergenia) family of the Saxifragaceae family.

The plant is distributed in Siberia (Altai, Buryatia, Chita, Irkutsk, Kemerovo regions, Altai Republic, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Tuva, south of Yakutia), Kazakhstan, Primorye, in the north of Mongolia, China and Korea.

It grows on rocks, screes, old moraines and rocky slopes of the subalpine and upper parts of the forest belt, in coniferous and deciduous forests with a medium-closed canopy. It forms the densest thickets in places protected from the wind and having a thick winter cover of snow. It can “climb” to a height of over 2000 m above sea level.

The rhizome is creeping, fleshy, thick, reaches several meters in length and 3.5 cm in diameter, with numerous root lobes, highly branched, located near the surface of the soil, turning into a powerful vertical root.

The stem is thick, leafless, glabrous, pink-red, 15-50 cm high.

Leaves in a deep rosette (wintering under the snow), dark green, reddening by autumn, with an almost rounded plate and membranous sheath, large, broadly oval, whole, glabrous, leathery, shiny, lasting up to two to three years. The leaf plate is widely elliptical or almost round, rounded at the base or heart-shaped, blunt or obscure dentate, 3–35 cm long, 2.5–30 cm wide, on broad petioles not exceeding the length of the lamina, provided with membranous vaginal stipules at the base.

The flowers are small, regular, five-membered, without bracts, in the apical dense panicle-corymbose inflorescence, usually two each on long reddish leafless pedicels up to 4 cm long. ; the petals are obovate or broadly ovate, with a wide short marigold, 10-12 mm long, 6-8 mm wide, with a blunt-rounded apex and many veins, lilac-red or pink. Stamens twice as long as calyx, ten of them. Pestle with a low lower ovary, deeply divided into two (three) columns with wide kidney-shaped stigmas.

The fruit is an ellipsoidal, dry capsule with two diverging blades, opening along the abdominal suture. Seeds are numerous, oblong, smooth, glabrous, granular, almost black, up to 2 mm long. The weight of 1000 seeds is 0.17 g, in 1 g of 6000 seeds.

It blooms in May – June until the appearance of young leaves, the seeds ripen in July – August.

For medicinal purposes, the rhizomes of Badan thicket are used, which are harvested in June – July. Collected by hand, cleaned from the ground and washed in cold running water. Large rhizomes are cut into long pieces. After preliminary drying, they are dried in the shade or in well-ventilated rooms, laying out in a layer of 5 cm on paper or fabric. Leaves are much less commonly used.

Chemical composition

Rhizomes contain 15–27% of tannins, which belong mainly to the group of gallotannins, the tannin content of which ranges from 8 to 10%. The composition of tannins rhizomes up to 35% gallic acid. With age, the content of tannins in the rhizomes increases. Rhizomes contain isocoumarin bergenin, 6.52% glucose and up to 2.5% sucrose.

The leaves contain from 10 to 23%, in some cases up to 35% of tannins (the content of tannins in the leaves decreases with age). Leaf tannins – a mixture of pyrogallic (up to 40%) and pyrocatechol tannides.

The arbutin content in the leaves reaches 22%, and free hydroquinone – 4%, gallic and ellagic acids are also present. According to the content of arbutin, badan is the richest plant source in the world; before studying badan, bearberry (5% arbutin) was in first place.

The medicinal properties of frankincense have long been used in Russian folk medicine, as well as in medicine in Tibet and China. Water extracts of rhizomes and leaves inside are used for colitis and enterocolitis of non-infectious nature, tuberculosis, acute and chronic pneumonia, pulmonary hemorrhage, acute respiratory, influenza and some other infections, laryngitis, headaches, fevers, joint rheumatism, and gastrointestinal diseases. They are used in gynecological practice for heavy menstruation due to inflammatory processes of the appendages, for hemorrhagic metropathies, uterine fibroids, after childbirth, and bleeding after termination of pregnancy.

Badan is also used for colitis of non-dysenteric nature; with dysentery – in combination with sulfonamides and antibiotics. They are also used in dental practice for lubricating the gums in chronic inflammatory processes in the oral cavity. Compresses with infusion or a decoction of incense are used to heal wounds, ulcers and bruises.

Folk medicine used the leaves of frankincense for the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, rheumatism, gastrointestinal, urinary tract diseases, with goiter, toothache. In Mongolian medicine, frankincense is used for nausea and vomiting.

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