Common names: yellow melilot, ribbed melilot, yellow sweet clover
Common melilot is an annual or biennial plant belonging to the bean (Fabaceae) family. Nitrogen-binding bacteria develop in its roots. Its branched stems are usually 30-80 cm long but they can grow much higher. Its lower triple leaves are ovate, the upper ones are narrower, spear-shaped, pointed. The small yellow flowers form thin, pointed clusters in the axils.
The melilot is native to Eurasia, it is very adaptable, a common species of weed association growing on arable lands, roadsides and grassy pastures.
The drug is obtained from the stems which are at most 40 cm long (Meliloti herba) or from the ripped flowers (Meliloti flos). The stems must be collected when the first flowers appear. The stems are properly dried and stored if the leaves remain green and the flowers retain their yellow colour and pleasant, honey-like scent.
The characteristic scent of the melilot drug is caused by coumarin and its derivatives, produced during plant withering. The petals contain flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin), which are also responsible for their yellow color.
As herb, melilot is known for a long time and has been used since the ancient times due to its benefits. It has anti-inflammatory effects, improves the lymph circulation and is used to treat oedemas. Externally, it is suitable to treat bruises, sprains, and luxation. For medical use, the plant drug must be soaked in hot water, placed into a canvas and then on the appropriate body part. One can also make a bandage of the injured limb form a piece of canvas soaked into melilot infusion. Infusions made from the flowering stems are used to treat varicose or haemorrhagic problems or oedemas caused by lymph circulation disorders. In traditional medicine, melilot was used as a diuretic and to treat digestive disorders. Since its coumarin content varies, its internal use is recommended in form of pharmaceutical products, which have precisely-set active ingredient content.
The flowers are also used as a tobacco fragrance.