The hounds tongue plant has been used from the 16th century onwards as part of some famous French pills (at that time) discovered by the renowned French surgeon Ambroise Pare (1510-1590). Beside hound’s tongue, these pills contained opium, henbane, saffron, incense, and myrrh. However, these pills are no longer used at present, and the herb is generally only applied externally presently.
Hounds Tongue Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Dog-burr, dog’s tongue, gypsy flower, sheeplice, woolmat, cynoglossum officinale.
- French: Language-de-Chien.
- Spanish: Cinoglosa.
- Environment: Spread all over Europe and naturalized in warm regions of America, though seldom found. It grows on roadsides and unfarmed lands.
- Description: Vivacious plant of the Boraginaceae family, growing from 30 to 80cm high, with green-greyish large, soft, hairy leaves and wine-red flowers. The plant has a fetid odor.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The root when dried and the leaves when fresh.
Healing Properties and Indications
The root of the hound’s tongue plant contains alkaloids (cynoglossine), a toxic glycoside (consolidine), a bitter component (cynglossidine), mucin, allantoin, and tannin. Its leaves are especially rich in allantoin and tannin. Allantoin is an emollient and healing substance that is part of the composition of several creams and pharmaceutical preparations.
Hound’s tongue has astringent and soothing properties. In external application, it has emollient (calms the inflamed skin mucosa) properties and wound healing properties due to its content in allantoin.
This plant has been used as an infusion for antidiarrheic and pectoral purposes, but since it is harmful to the liver, its external use only is recommended. However, its main application is in external use, as a cicatrizant for skin cracks, burns, torpid ulcerations, and difficult healing wounds.
Hand baths with a decoction of hound’s tongue soothe and hydrate the skin and hands and are very useful for dry skin due to cold or chemical products.
How to Use Hound’s Tongue
- Decoction with a spoonful of ground root per cup of water. Drink one cup per day.
- Poultices with mashed leaves are applied to the affected skin for 30 minutes.
- Compresses with the fresh juice of the plant or a decoction of its root.
- Hand baths with a decoction of hound’s tongue prepared with 50g of leaves and root per liter of water, boiling for 5 minutes.
- 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. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 703. Print.