Herbs & Plants

Hound’s Tongue

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Botanical Name : Cynoglossum officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus:     Cynoglossum
Species: C. officinale

Synonyms: Lindefolia spectabilis. Dog’s Tongue.

Common Names :Houndstongue, Houndstooth, Dog’s tongue, Gypsy flower, and Rats and mice.
The name houndstongue comes from the belief that it could ward off dog attacks if a leaf was worn in the shoe.

Habitat : Hound’s Tongue  is  found in most parts of Europe and east to Asia,  North America where it was accidentally introduced.It grows in dry grassy areas and the edges of woods, often near the sea, on sand, gravel, chalk or limestone soils.

Hound’s Tongue is a rough, bristly perennial,stout and herbaceous  plant, grows 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall.(It can be either annual or biennial too) with reddish-purple flowers blooming between May and September. and terminal (the end of the stem).The stem, hairy and leafy, 1 to 2 feet high, branched above, arises from amidst large, narrow, radical, stalked leaves.
It forms a rosette (a disk of foliage) the first year (leaves near the ground in a circle with no visible stem).  The heavy, tongued shaped leaves alternate up the stem and are about 4 to 12 inches long.  The leaves are hairy and rough and feel like a dog’s tongue, and that’s how it acquired it’s name.    The seed pods are distinctive 1/3 of an inch across and covered with barbs that enable them to stick to hairs, clothing etc., which is how they spread.

Prefers sandy, gravelly and basic soils. Grows well in an ordinary well-drained soil. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are an absolute magnet for bees. The plant smells of mice.

Seed – sow in situ in early summer. The seed can be sown in spring or autumn, a period of cold stratification improves germination.

Edible Uses:  Young leaves are eaten raw or cooked. A disagreeable odour and taste.

Medicinal Uses:
Analgesic; Antihaemorrhoidal; Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cancer; Digestive; Emollient; Narcotic.

Hound’s tongue has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, though it is rarely used in modern herbalism. The leaves contain allantoin, a highly effective agent that speeds up the healing process in the body. Caution should be applied, however, since narcotic effects result from large doses taken internally and the plant is potentially carcinogenic (though it has also been used in the treatment of cancer). The leaves and roots are analgesic, antihaemorrhoidal, antispasmodic, astringent, digestive, emollient and slightly narcotic. The plant contains the alkaloids cynoglossine and consolidin, which are used medicinally to relieve pain. They depress the central nervous system and are also potentially carcinogenic. The plant has been used internally in the treatment of coughs and diarrhoea, though it is now mainly used externally as a poultice on piles, wounds, minor injuries, bites and ulcers. The root is harvested at the end of spring of the plants second year. Another report says that it is best harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The leaves and flowering shoots are harvested as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. The plant has a wide antitumour reputation for cancers of various types. A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots. It is very effective in the treatment of insomnia.

An infusion from shaved root or crushed leaves is used to bathe cuts, bruises, burns and eczema and to treat coughs and bronchitis.  The leaves produce a potent poultice for external relief of scrofulous tumors, burns, goiter and inflammations.  Use similar to comfrey.  It makes a good treatment for piles and hemorrhoids, drink a cup of the herb or root every day.  It has been used in  catarrhs, hemoptysis, diarrhea, and dysentery. Externally, it has been found highly beneficial in removing the pain and soreness attending irritated, bruised, or chafed parts especially in excoriation of the feet from much traveling. The tincture, or the application of bruised fresh leaves will remove the swelling and ecchymosis consequent upon severe blows or bruises.

Other Uses:
Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed
The plant smells of mice.

Known Hazards: Houndstongue contains alkaloids that can cause cancer when the plant is consumed in large quantities. The plant is also said to be slightly poisonous, there are no reported cases of human poisoning but there are some cases of cattle being poisoned. The plant has a disagreeable odour and taste so is seldom eaten by animals. Contact with the plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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