� DEAD NETTLE
A Modern Herbal. Mrs. M. Grieve. F.R.H.S.
Compiled by Ivor Hughes
1. U.S.D. 1926 Part II.
A. hairy perennial herb introduced from Europe and found on roadsides and waste places in the United States. Hemostyptic properties were long since attributed by Lusitanus and by Florain to the flowers of this plant, and, according to the more recent researches by Kalabin (Cb. G. T., xx, No. 12), their decoction produces a rise of the arterial pressure due to contraction of the peripheral vessels. The extract was found to cause firm, lasting contraction of the uterus, and the saturated tincture, indoses of twenty-five to forty minims (1.6 - 2.5 cc.) every two or three hours, to be useful in Hemorrhagic metritis and metrorrhagia. Its effects in puerperal hemorrhage were not pronounced.
Mrs. M. Grieve. F.R.H.S. A Modern Herbal.
N.O. Labiatae Synonym. Purple Archangel
The Purple Dead-Nettle is a common weed in cultivated ground and by waysides, found in the same spots as the other species, but less conspicuous. It has heart- or kidney-shaped leaves, blunt, not pointed as in the preceding species, and is distinguished by the purple tinge of its foliage, crowded upper leaves and small, reddish flowers, which have much shorter petal tubes than the Yellow and White Dead-Nettles, so that bees with shorter tongues than the humble-bee, can reach its honey and fertilize it. It is, indeed, a favourite with bees, who find abundance of honey in its blossoms. The upper leaves are often densely clapped with silky hairs. It flowers all the summer - from April to September and in mild seasons, both earlier and later. This species of Dead-Nettle is an annual, propagated by its seeds alone. It is one of the earliest weeds in gardens, but being an annual is easily eradicated.
The plant varies greatly in appearance, according to the situation in which it grows. On the open ground, it is somewhat spreading in habit, rarely more than 6 inches in height, whilst specimens growing in the midst of crowded vegetation are often drawn up to a considerable height, their leaves being of a dull green throughout, whereas those of the smaller specimens grown in the open are ordinarily more or less warm and rich in colour. At first glance the variation in the appearance of specimens grown under these different circumstances would leave the casual observer to suppose them to belong to different species.
Medicinal Action and Uses. The herb and flowers, either fresh or dried, have been used to make a decoction for checking any kind of haemorrhage.The leaves are also useful to staunch wounds, when bruised and outwardly applied. The dried herb, made into a tea and sweetened with honey, promotes perspiration and acts on the kidneys, being useful in cases of chill. Linnaeus reported that this species also has been boiled and eaten as a pot-herb by the peasantry in Sweden.
HENBIT DEAD-NETTLE (Lamium amplexicaule, Linn.), a small annual, fairly common on cultivated and waste ground, is not unlike the Purple Dead-Nettle, but somewhat lighter and more graceful. Its fine, deep rose-coloured flowers have a much slenderer tube, thrown out farther from the leaves.
SPOTTED DEAD-NETTLE (L. maculatum), not considered a true, wilding, but an escape from old-fashioned cottage gardens, is by some botanists regarded as a variety of the White Dead-Nettle, which it closely resembles, the flowers being, however, pale purple, instead of white and the foliage often marked by a broad, irregular streak of white down the centre of each leaf, with a few blotches on each side.
HEMP NETTLE (Galeopsis tetrahit, Linn.) (named from gale (weasel) and opsis (a countenance), because of a fancied resemblance of its blossom to a weasel's face) is supposed to have been the source of one of Count Mattel's nostrums: Pettorale. It is found on roadsides and borders of cornfields, tall-stemmed and erect, covered with long, dense bristles, the stem-joints thickened and the egg-shaped leaves hairy. The flowers, in dense whorls, are white, purple or yellow and are specially adapted for the visits of long-lipped bees, being much visited by the Humble Bee. See DODDERS.
Gerard tells us: The White Archangel flowers compass the stalks round at certain distances, even as those of Horehound, whereof this is a kind and not of Nettle. The root is very threddy. The flowers are baked with sugar; as also the distilled water of them, which is said to make the heart merry, to make a good colour in the face, and to make the vital spirits more fresh and lively.' Linnaeus tells us: that although refused by cattle, the leaves are eaten in Sweden as a pot-herb in the spring, in like manner as the True Nettle.
Part Used Medicinally. The whole herb, collected in May and June, when just coming into flower and the leaves are in their best condition, and then dried in the manner directed for 'bunched' herbs. The characteristic Dead-Nettle odour is lost in drying, but a slightly bitter taste remains. The herb may be cultivated and propagated by means of seed sown in shallow drills, or by cuttings or division of roots; it spreads rapidly by means of its creeping, perennial roots, so that when once established, it is hard to get rid of it - but it would hardly pay for cultivation and is generally collected in the wild state.
Medicinal Action and Uses. The whole plant is of an astringent nature, and in herbal medicine is considered of use for arresting haemorrhages, as in spitting of blood and dysentery. Cotton-wool, dipped in a tincture of the fresh herb, is efficacious in staunching bleeding and a homoeopathic tincture prepared from the flowers is used for internal bleeding, thedose being 5 to 10 drops in cold water.
As a blood purifier for rashes, eczema, etc., a decoction of Nettle flowers is excellent. It has the reputation of being effectual in the healing of green wounds, bruises and burns. This and the other species of Dead-Nettle have also been used in female complaints for their astringent properties.
Culpepperand the old herbalists tell us that the Archangel is an exhilarating herb, that it 'makes the heart merry, drives away melancholy, quickens the spirits, is good against the quartan agues, stauncheth bleeding at the mouth and nose if it be stamped and applied to the nape of the neck.'
It was used with great success in removing the hardness of the spleen, which was supposed to be the seat of melancholy, a decoction being made with wine and the herb applied hot as a plaster to the region of the spleen, the decoction also being used as a fomentation. Bruised and mixed with salt, vinegar and lard, it has proved useful in the reduction of swellings and also to give ease in gout, sciatica and other pains in the joints and muscles.