Bistort or Bistorta officinalis main active ingredients are tannins (oligomeric proanthocyanidins, galloyl, and catechol tannins) which are present in very large quantities in the rootstock (15 to 36 percent).

The herb has been used internally to treat diarrhea (especially in children). It has also been used to treat dysentery, cholera, gastritis, cystitis and heavy menstrual bleeding.