parts used: leaves
energetics: cooling, moist, astringent (a most interesting mix!)
actions: alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary
common names: Rib Grass, Ripple Grass, Waybread, Slan-lus, Waybroad, Snakeweed, Cuckoo’s Bread, Englishman’s Foot, White Man’s Foot, Pony Tails, Devil’s Shoe String, Buckhorn, Chimney Sweeps, Headsman, Soldier’s Herb, Healing Blade.
Lambs Ear is a member of the Lamiaceae family, related to mint. It was used for centuries as a wound dressing on the battlefield. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages.
Lamb’s ear is loosely related to Betony (both are Stachys), and is sometimes called woolly betony. Besides the sopping up of blood and use as a dressing, lamb’s ear has also been used as a poultice and has analgesic properties.
It was used either alone, or to help hold in other herbs like comfrey. It was often used in the aftermath of bee or wasp stings, and reduces the swelling from both.
It was used for centuries as a “women’s comfort” for hemorrhoids, menstrual flow, birthing, for nervous tension, and as a skin aid. It’s easy to see that with the invention of Tylenol, gauze, feminine hygiene products, cotton packing, and make up removal pads, the knowledge and use of lamb’s ear for this purpose kind of went out the window. However, now you know you have a natural substitute if everything goes wrong and supplies are not available.
Lamb’s ear has been used as a natural dye for wool. Boiling the leaves in hot water and then adding a mordant, brings out a fabulous, creamy, yellowish beige. Using the bracts (flower spike) instead of the leaves, a light mauve can be attained.
For centuries, hunters and soldiers have used Lamb’s Ear leaves as a field dressing for injuries. With its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and super absorbent properties, it makes a perfect make-shift bandage.
- Sydney J. Tanner For The Herald. “Lamb’s ear a durable, interesting plant” http://chippewa.com/lifestyles/greenspace-lamb-s-ear-a-durable-interesting-plant/article_ade717f2-852c-11df-8b64-001cc4c03286.html. Accessed August 10, 2013
- Life on a Homestead