Germander, Sage-Leaved

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Germander, Sage-Leaved

Botanical Name: Teucrium scorodonia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae

Synonyms: Wood Sage. Large-leaved Germander. Hind Heal. Ambroise. Garlic Sage.
Part Used: Herb.
Habitat: Sage-leaved Germander (Teucrium scorodonia) is a common woodland plant in healthy districts. It is a native of Europe and Morocco, found in woody and hilly situations among bushes and under hedges, where the soil is dry and stony. It is frequent in such places in most parts of Great Britain, flowering from July to September.

Description: The roots are perennial and creeping, the stems square, a foot or two in height, of a shrubby character, with opposite greyish-green, sage-like leaves, in form somewhat oblong heart-shaped, the edges coarsely toothed, very much wrinkled in texture like those of the Sage, hence its familiar names, Wood Sage and Sage Germander.

The whole plant is softly hairy or pubescent. The small labiate flowers are in onesided spike-like clusters, the corollas greenish-yellow in colour, with four stamens, which have yellow anthers, and very noticeable purple and hairy filaments. The terminal flowering spike is about as long again as those that spring laterally below it from the axils of the uppermost pair of leaves.

The generic name of Teucrium was bestowed by Linnaeus, it has been suggested, from a belief that this plant is identical with the plant that Dioscorides says was first used medicinally by an ancient king of Troy, named Teucer, but it is also said that Linnaeus named the genus after a Dr. Teucer, a medical botanist.

The specific name, scorodonia, is derived from the Greek word for Garlic, and does not appear to be particularly appropriate to this species.

It has been popularly called ' Hind Heal,' from a theory that the hind made use of it when sick or wounded, and was probably the same herb as Elaphoboscum, the Dittany taken by harts in Crete.

In taste and smell, the species resembles Hops. It is called 'Ambroise' in Jersey, and used there and in some other districts as a substitute for hops. It is said that when this herb is boiled in wort the beer becomes clear sooner than when hops are made use of, but that it is apt to give the liquor too much colour.

The bitter taste is due to the presence of a peculiar tonic principle found in all the species of this genus.

There are about 100 species of Teucrium widely dispersed throughout the world, but chiefly abounding in the northern temperate and subtropical regions of the Eastern Hemisphere. Of the three other British species besides the Wood Sage, two have been used medicinally, T. Chamaedrys (Wall Germander), a famous old gout medicine, and T. Scordium (Water Germander).

Cultivation: Wood Sage is generally collected in the wild state, but will thrive in any moderately good soil, and in almost any situation.

It may be increased by seeds, by cuttings, inserted in sandy soil, under a glass, in spring and summer; or by division of roots in the autumn.

Part Used: The whole herb, collected in July.

Constituents: A volatile oil, some tannin and a bitter principle.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Alterative and diuretic, astringent tonic, emmenagogue. Much used in domestic herbal practice for skin affections and diseases of the blood, also in fevers, colds, inflammations, and as an emmenagogue.

Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.

It is useful for quinsy, sore throat, and in kidney and bladder trouble.

In chronic rheumatism it has been used with benefit, and is considered a valuable tonic and restorer of the system after an attack of rheumatism, gout, etc.

The infusion (freshly prepared) is the proper mode of administration, made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, taken warm in wineglassful doses, three or four times a day.

Wood Sage is an appetizer of the first order, and as a tonic will be found equal to Gentian. It forms an excellent bitter combined with Comfrey and Ragwort, which freely influences the bladder. It is also good to cleanse old sores. If used in the green state with Comfrey and Ragwort, the combination makes an excellent poultice for old wounds and inflammations in any part of the body. Culpepper tells us: 'The decoction of the green herb with wine is a safe and sure remedy for those who by falls, bruises or blows suspect some vein to be inwardly broken, to disperse and void the congealed blood and consolidate the veins. The drink used inwardly and the herb outwardly is good for such as are inwardly or outwardly bursten, and is found to be a sure remedy for the palsy. The juice of the herb or the powder dried is good for moist ulcers and sores. It is no less effectual also in green wounds to be used upon any occasion.' A snuff has been made from its powdered leaves to cure nasal polypi.