Picture - Thyme Leaf Speedwell
Speedwell Herbal Uses and Medicinal Properties
Speedwell is considered to be diuretic, expectorant, stomachic, tonic. Speedwell was once a highly regarded in England as a healthy, relaxing, herbal tea and tonic. As with most astringent, bitter herbs, an infusion of speedwell can be used as a wash for troubled skin. Recent studies have shown Speedwell tea may be an effective preventative treatment for ulcers. It is most often used been used for coughs and congestion.
In modern herbal medicine, speedwell tea, brewed from the dried flowering plant, sometimes serves as a cough remedy or as a lotion for irritated or infected skin. The somewhat bitter and astringent taste and tea like smell of speedwell led to its use as a tea substitute in 19th-century France, where it was called the d’Europe, or "Europe tea." The French still use this term as a name for speedwell.
The Emperor Charles the Fifth of Spain is said to have derived much relief to his gout from the use of this herb. It contains tannin, and a particular bitter principle.
Experimental anti-ulcer activity of Veronica officinalis L. extracts
Scarlat M, Sandor V, Tamas M, Cuparencu B. Abstract
In indomethacin-induced ulcers in albino rats, the anti-ulcerogenic effects of some extracts prepared from Veronica officinalis L. were investigated. The extracts had a significant anti-ulcerogenic activity. In ulcer healing experiments performed in rats by administering reserpine, the extracts were found to enhance the regeneration of the gastric mucosa. These results seem to confirm the popular observations according to which the decoction from Veronica officinalis L. possessed useful properties in the treatment of gastric ulcers.
"Although speedwell has a reputation, especially in Europe, as a healer of all illnesses, it is used primarily as an expectorant for respiratory problems. It has also been used for stomach ailments, migraine headache, and as a gargle for mouth and throat soars, The fresh juice taken in large quantities is helpful for gout, and it can also be used externally to relieve chronic skin problems."
Speedwell Habitat and Description
The Speedwells of my area are tiny yard weeds and also found in ditches in early spring. It may cover large areas of ground, but is inconspicuous due to its small stature. However, if you look close you will see a dainty medicinal beauty with either blue flowers, or white flowers striped with blue.
Speedwell flowers range from whitish blue with blue streaks to violet. They are small, crowded on spike-like racemes from axils of leaves, often from alternate axils. Calyx 4-parted; corolla of 4 lobes, lower lobe commonly narrowest ; 2 divergent stamens inserted at base and on either side of upper corolla lobe ; a knob-like stigma on solitary pistil. Stem: From 3 to 10 in. long, hairy, often prostrate, and rooting at joints. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, obtuse, saw-edged, narrowed at base. Ivy Leaf Speedwell is has three lobed leaves with fine hairs. Fruit: Compressed heart-shaped capsule, containing numerous flat seeds.
Distribution - From Michigan and Tennessee eastward, also from Ontario to Nova Scotia. Probably an immigrant from Europe and Asia.
How to Grow Speedwells
Speedwells are common yard weeds that can become invasive, and are often grown as ground cover. They thrive in poor damp soil. Most speedwells are annuals and grow easily from seeds from the previous year’s flowers.
History and Folklore of Speedwell
The name speedwell comes from an old meaning of the word speed, "thrive." The scientific term Veronica goes back some 500 years and is apparently connected with the name of the legendary Veronica, who is said to have wiped the face of Jesus as He went to Calvary. It is possible that the genus Veronica was named after her because the flowers supposedly resemble the markings left on the cloth with which she wiped Jesus’ face.
The Germans also name this plant Ehren-preis, or Prize of Honour; which fact favours the supposition of its being the true "Forget-me-not," or souveigne vous de moy, as legendary on knightly collars of yore to commemorate a famous joust fought in 1465 between the most accomplished champions of England and France.
Speedwell may be used for herbal tea. Use 1-2 tsp. of dried herb per cup of hot water. Speedwell can also be used in skin preparations such as lotions or herbal salves.
The Herb Book by John
Covers almost 500 medicinal plants, including many native species, as well as recipes for many herbal concoctions. A wealth of information in an inexpensive paperback edition.
Wildflowers of Tennessee by Jack B. Carman
Indian Herbology of North America - Alma Hutchens Out of Print, used copies on Amazon.com
THE HERB HUNTERS GUIDE
:AMERICAN MEDICINAL PLANTS OF COMMERCIAL
BY A.F. SIEVERS, Senior Biochemist, Office of Drug and Related Plants, Bureau of Plant Industry
"Nature’s Garden" also published as “Wild Flowers, An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers and Their Insect Visitors” by Neltje Blanchan (Public Domain)
Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure by William Thomas Fernie (Public Domain)
Photos by Karen Bergeron Copyright 2002-2011 2007 Article Copyright 2011 by Karen Bergeron