Name: Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
Otherwise known as: Carpetweed, Blue Bugle, Sicklewort
Habitat: A perennial member of the Labiatea family growing up to 15cm in moist woodlands and meadows in Europe and the Caucasus, with a creeping rhizome forming slender stems that contain toothed, mint-like leaves and terminate in spikes of deep purple tubular flowers. Large doses are narcotic and cause hallucinations.
What does it do: Medieval physicians were very fond of the plant and used it extensively in the treatment of war wounds. Gerard writes ‘…it is put in drinkes for woundes and that is the cause why some doe commonly say that he that hath it will scarce vouchsafe the chirugeon (surgeon).’
Culpeper suggests ‘Many times such as give themselves to the drinking are troubled by strange fancies, strange sights in the night time and some with voices… Those I have known cured by taking only two teaspoons of the syrup of Bugle after supper two hours, when you go to bed’. He goes on to state that it ‘Dissolveth the congealed blood in those that are bruised inwardly by a fall or otherwise is very effectual for any inward wounds, thrusts or stabs in the body or bowels.’
The early herbalists used the plant as a standard treatment for gangrene, sores, dislocated joints, fistulas, the overgrown liver, and wounds; it contains a remarkable set of compounds for such an insignificant plant principally iridoids, glycosides, anthroquinones, phenols and mono and triterpenes. And although it was used by 20th century herbalists to treat tuberculosis and all forms of internal and external bleeding the plant no longer has the prominence it once held. However, recent researches indicate that extracts may have an important part to play in remedying the premature onset of hair loss. The glycosides in the plant contain a chemical which appears to combat alopecia in males and may prove invaluable in restoring the hair follicles. Could be a winner.
Alexander McCowan. Author of The World’s most Dangerous Plants