Blessed herb, also known as bennet, is a humble plant with a fragile appearance, decorating roadsides and field borders. The whole plant, especially its rhizome (underground stem), has a unique aroma similar to clove essence.
Blessed herb was used by Dioscorides, the great Greek botanist and physician of the 1st century. In the 12th century, Saint Hildegard referred to it as Benedicta (blessed), thanks to its great virtues. In the 17th century, it was used as a febrifuge (to ease fever), though this is not its most outstanding property, and some intended to substitute quinine with this plant. It is still appreciated in phytotherapy, though its use is not widespread.
Blessed Herb Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name: Geum urbanum L.
- Other Names: Bennet, European avens, star of the earth, yellow avens.
- French: Benoîte.
- Spanish: Cariofilada, hierba de San Benito.
- Environment: Common in forests, hedges, walls, and generally shady, humid places in Europe and North America.
- Description: Herbaceous plant of the Rosaceae family, growing from 30 to 60 cm high, upright, hairy stem, with toothed leaves, divided into unbalanced lobes, and small, solitary, yellowish flowers.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The leaves, the rhizome, and the root.
Primarily the rhizome, and in a lesser proportion, the leaves and the root, contain plenty of tannins (up to 3 percent). Tannins give the plant astringent (drying the mucous membrane), anti-inflammatory, and vulnerary (easing the healing of wounds) properties.
However, its most important active principle is a glycoside called geoside. Utilizing the action of gease, an enzyme that the plant contains, it disintegrates itself and liberates eugenol. This essential oil, eugenol, is responsible for its peculiar aroma and antiseptic, oral analgesic, and digestive properties. For all these reasons, bennet is recommended in the following cases:
Summer diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and intestinal upsets: It acts as a powerful astringent and, at the same time, as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic substance for the digestive system mucous membrane.
When stimulation of the digestive functions is necessary, its use is especially recommended during recovery from fever or weakening diseases. Like all plants containing bitter substances, blessed herb activates digestion in cases of lack of appetite or dyspepsia (digestion upsets, flatulence). It is also useful in the care of chronic gastritis.
Oral afflictions: Periodontist and gingivitis (gum inflammation), pyorrhea, and mouth sores. Locally applied in gargles or rinses, it reduces gums’ inflammation and disinfects and heals the oral mucous membrane. It makes halitosis (bad breath) disappear caused by gum inflammation and eases toothaches.
Conjunctivitis and blepharitis: It is applied in eye baths or eyedrops and reduces the inflammation of delicate eye mucous membranes, disinfecting them.
It is advised not to surpass the dose since the plant may provoke intolerance due to its high tannin content.
How to use Blessed Herb
- Infusion with 40 to 60 grams of rhizome, root, or dry ground leaves per liter of water. Drink up to four cups daily. Sweetening this infusion is not recommended to increase its effectiveness.
- Mouth rinses and gargles.
- Compresses or lotions, treating skin sores or wounds.
- Eye baths.
- Eyedrops. Three to five drops every six hours.
In Europe and North America, a similar species to the Geum urbanum L., the Geum rivale L. grows. Its components are identical. Therefore, its properties are also similar. These species pollinate one another, and intermediate forms are pretty frequent.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 194, 195. Print. [blessed herb]