Lambs Ear – Stachys byzantina

a patch of lambs ear

Botanical: Stachys byzantina

Family: Lamiaceae

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: Wound Wort, 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 (Stachys byzantina) is a member of the Lamiaceae family, related to mint. It is is widely grown as an ornamental plant, but does have medicinal uses. The plant hails from Turkey, Armenia, and Iran but is now cultivated around much of the world because of its ornamental, medicinal, and culinary qualities. It is noted for its fuzzy leaves with white hairs. 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. Astringent properties in the leaves help to stop bleeding and the soft hairs are gentle on wounds.

Lambs ear is related to Betony (both are Stachys) and at times 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.

Lambs ear was used for centuries for birthing, hemorrhoids, menstrual flow, 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.

Lambs 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.

lambs ear - Stachys byzantina

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.

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson