Woundwort, sometimes known as Hedge-Nettle, is a common perennial in the Lamiaceae, or mint family thats found throughout the US, Europe, and Asia in mesic open fields, woodlands, and wastelands. It can tolerate most soils and is generally easy to cultivate in the garden. It has a slender, creeping root-stalk from which it’s two to three foot tall hairy square stems emerge, bearing opposite ovate leaves with toothed margins. It flowers two lipped purplish blossoms in dense terminal spikes arranged in whorls. From these, a small nutlet or schizocarp fruit is formed, bearing small black seeds. The seed capsule float easily, making this plant a common occurrence along river edges and lake beds. It’s best collected mid summer when the plant is in bloom. Although the flowers have little fragrance themselves, they are very attractive to bumblebees, as nectar indicators guide the insect to probe into the flower. Once established in the garden, it is hard to remove because of it’s extensive network of underground runners.
Woundwort is most commonly used for it’s vulnerary, antiseptic, and astringent properties, as it can be used directly on wounds to speed their healing in compresses or in salves and ointments. It has mild anti-spasmic properties, and can be taken internally to ease cramps and joint pain, heal internal wounds, and to ease diarrhea and dystentery. It makes a good gargle for sore throats, and can also be used to speed the recovery from stomatitis and thrush.
The tubers can be eaten when young, and one of its Asian relatives is cultivated as a crop in some regions of Europe. According to John Lust, Woundwort is excellent for fits and convulsions, and will expel worms, if not devils.
Flavor Profile and Energetics
Cooling, astringent, bitter-sweet
Externally, as needed. As an infusion, 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup of water, steeped for ten to fifteen minutes, taken three times a day. 1-2 ml of the tincture, taken three times daily. Or, 1 tbsp of dried herb per pint of whiskey, soaked for a few days, then taken as needed.
Combine with comfrey in external preparations for an extra wound-healing boost.
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