Lamb's Ear: Stachys byzantina, Lamb's Toungue, Woolly Betony

Botany:

Lamb’s Ear can grow to a height of 12-18 inches in hardiness zones 4-8 and yields tall purple flower heads in May through July. The fuzzy leaves of the plant produce a smell like that of apple when crushed.

Chemistry:

Chemical constituents of the plant include betonicine, stachydrene, and trigonelline, all of which are alkaloids. Tannins are also present in the plant.

Fun Fact:

The genus Stachys is said to have received its name from the word Lamb’s Ear is often called Silver Carpet because of its silvery appearance in moonlight, and is an appealing addition to any garden, both for its beauty and velvety feeling to the touch. Some superstitious individuals believe Lamb’s Ear to possess the magical powers to heal emotional and spiritual wounds, likely due to its close relation to other Stachys species which have been shown to heal physical wounds effectively.

History: 

Bandages of Woundwort (Stachys palustris) were applied to wounds and bruises in medieval times due to their effectiveness in wound healing. As mentioned earlier, other members of the Stachys genus have medicinal use, and Stachys officinalis was arguably the most important medicinal herb to the Anglo-Saxons of early medieval Britain. Many reports oppose the claim that S. officinalis was the most important medieval herb and favor a claim that S. palustris was, indeed, the most important medieval herb. Likely, though, they were both important in the different areas to which they are native. S. palustris is native to Europe, except iceland, grows to three feet high, has lanc-shaped toothed leaves, and bears spikes of whorled purple flowers from June to September (Strange, 239).

Uses/Pharmacology:

Known as Wood Betony, S. officinalis has effect on the central nervous system, with a sedative effect, but it has been indicated for use in highly numerous conditions, including, but not limited to, dropsy, hypertension, dyspepsia, bladder stone, asthma, depression, gout, headache, kidney stone, nephrosis, neuralgia, and sore throat (Duke, 792). The aerial parts of the plant are collected just before the plant flowers and are dried in the sun.

Dosing/Recipes: 

For treatment of headache and neuralgia from anxiety and nervousness, an infusion of S. officinalis may be prepared from 1-2 teaspoons of the dried aerial parts infused in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. The infusion may be drunk three times daily. Alternatively, 2-6 milliliters of a tincture made from the aerial parts may be taken three times daily (Hoffmann, 146). Owing to its antiseptic properties, the plant is an effective wound healer and may be used as a poultice, wash, or mouthwash for the healing of wounds, including cankers of the mouth (Ody, 99).

To make use of the medicinal properties of Marsh Woundwort the aerial parts of the plant should be collected in mid-summer as it is beginning to flower. Its vulnerary, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, and astringent properties come from the flavonoids and iridoids present within the plant. An infusion of S. palustris may be prepared by allowing one teaspoon of the dried aerial parts the steep in one cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. The infusion should be drunk three times daily to ease menstrual cramps, joint pains, diarrhea relief, and for dysentery. A tincture may also be prepared for the same use, and should be taken in the amount of one to two milliliters, three times daily. Marsh Woundwort may also be applied directly to a wound as a poultice (Hoffmann, 147).

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions: 

References Cited:

"AutumnCrystal GreyWing's Manor-House For Wiccan Studies." Yahoo! GeoCities: Get a free web site with easy-to-use site building tools. 04 Apr. 2009 <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4177/lambsears.html>.

Hoffmann, David. Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal a Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies. Shattesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1996.

"Ground Covers: Stachys byzantina." North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Home. 04 Apr. 2009 <http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/stach....

Ody, Penelope. Complete Medicinal Herbal. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Strange, Richard Le. History of Herbal Plants. New York: Arco Pub. Co., 1977.

Duke, James A. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, Second Edition. CRC, 2002.

Researched By: Jeremy Schroeder