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The entire above-ground part of the plant is used medicinally. The collection of the plant takes place during flowering in July. The whole plant is very bitter and somewhat acrid, and imparts its virtues to water, which acquires a yellow color.
The active cathartic principle is a volatile oil and bitter substance, linin, which occurs in neutral, white, silky, and lustrous crystals. It is most abundant in the plant just after the flowers have fallen.
Other constituents, besides the mentioned linin, are resin and tannin.
Its alcoholic solution is persistently and strongly bitter.
High doses can cause vomiting, inflammation of the digestive system, and diarrhea. Large quantities can even cause fatal poisoning.