Teasel – Dipsacus sylvestirs

August 23rd, 2009 § 4 comments

teasel and bee

teasel and bee

This summer, I have not harvested or made much medicine beyond blending teas. Instead, I find myself staring off at plants, wondering about them. One that has attracted much of my attention and wonderment is teasel.

It’s not hard to be intrigued by teasel. It grows tall and stately, and its stems, ribs and flower heads are lined with sharp spikes. The leaves join the stalk and create a cup where rain gathers. The flowers form a band or patch on the flower head with little sweet-smelling, tube-like periwinkle flowers. When that band or patch of flowers is done flowering, other parts of the flower head will be filled with flowers, traveling up, down and around.

Teasel is in its own family (the Teasel family, related to the Asteraceaes) and is an European introduction. All over the world, the sharp, bristle-like dried flower heads have been used for carding (or teasing) wool. Though it hasn’t been used much in Western and Native American medicine, it has a traditional use in Chinese medicine, where its name means “restore what is broken” (Wood, 234) or “heal fracture”.

teasels in bloom

teasels in bloom

I first came across teasel medicinally while working at The Medicine Tree is St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Every so often people would purchase a tea by Herbalists and Alchemists called “Teasel Combination Tea”. It is an eclectic blend of Chinese and Western herbs: mulberry root, Japanese teasel root, du huo root, sarsaparilla, fennel and cardamom. Here is what David Winston has to say about it:

“Based on a traditional formula, these herbs open the channels (meridians) promoting circulation of blood and qi. This tea also acts as a systemic anti-inflammatory, reducing stagnation and pain associated with joint injuries, tendon and ligament damage as well as arthritic pain and bursitis.” (103).

This makes teasel a good herbal choice for Lyme disease and other conditions where with painful joints. Although I tried the Teasel Combination Tea for taste (tasted slightly warm and bitter), I never used it specifically for treating joint pain or injury. I do not have a Chinese herbal at my disposal, but it seems obvious that teasel is used in cases of cold, damp and blood deficiency. Lesley Tierra does say that teasel tones yang, and has hemostatic, anti-rheumatic, bone-healing, and analgesic properties (77). Tierra precautions its use in signs of deficient yin and heat, but indicates it in

“sore and painful lower back and knees, stiffness in the joints, weak legs, uterine bleeding, white vaginal discharge…pain, traumatic injuries, healing of bones, skin sores, arthritis, rheumatism” (77).

Matthew Wood writes the most about teasel, citing many interesting case studies. He says;

“As far as I know, Teasel is a superlative medicine for the kidney esesnce. The muscle and joint pain, the deterioration of structure, the helplessness and loss of purpose, ect., all relate to this pattern.” (237)

teasel, dried in the fall

teasel, dried in the fall

References:

Tierra, Lesley. Healing with the Herbs of Life.

Winston, David. Herbal Therapeutics.

Wood, Matthew. The Book of Herbal Wisdom.

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§ 4 Responses to Teasel – Dipsacus sylvestirs"

  • mimi kamp says:

    I’m wondering if anyone uses the leaves – wonderfully strong clean bitter….

  • Carey says:

    Oh! I’ve just found this post with two book references other than Wood’s. I would still be interested to know if you’ve had any other insight/experience since this post.

    Carey

  • LadyB says:

    Wolf Storl has written a wonderful book called “Healing Lyme Naturally” which is primarily about Teasel. It was published in German years ago and Matthew helped to get it translated into English and the English version was published in April 2010.

    I’ve worked with Matthew Wood for years trading input back and forth about success using FRESH Dipsacus sylvestris root tincture for Lyme with grand results. My own story on doing so is on my website ladybarbara.net . It is a FASCINATING plant.

  • celia says:

    Sweet! Thanks for sharing Lady B. I’ll have to get my hands on that book.

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