Pulmonaria officinalis-Lungwort Herb
Other names: P. maculosa, Jerusalem Cowslip, Oak Lungs, Lung Moss.
Habitat: Shady places throughout Europe including Britain, cultivated in gardens. Moist grasslands, damp woods and hedgerows in Britain, avoiding acid soils. Usually found on limestone.
Lungwort has a high mucilage content and this makes it useful in the treatment of chest conditions. Lungwort benefits most upper respiratory complaints but is of particular benefit in cases of chronic bronchitis. It combines well with other herbs such as coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) in the treatment of chronic coughs including whooping cough and can also be taken to treat asthma. The leaves and flowering shoots are astringent, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, mildly expectorant and resolvent. They are often used for their healing effect in pulmonary complaints and their mucilaginous nature makes them beneficial in treating sore throats. The leaves can also be used externally to stop bleeding. They are harvested in the spring and dried for later use. A distilled water made from the plant is an effective eyewash for tired eyes. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of bronchitis, coughs and diarrhoea.
Description of Lungwort Herb:
Pulmonaria officinalis; Lungswort herb is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May, and the seeds ripen from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation of Lungwort Herb:
Grows well in any moderately good soil including heavy clay soils. Prefers full to part shade in a moist humus rich soil. Succeeds in the sunless shade of buildings. Plants growing in shady positions tolerate drought if the soil is rich in humus. The leaves tend to wilt in hot weather when the plant is grown in full sun. Hardy to about -20°c. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer and rabbits. A valuable early nectar source for bees. There are several named forms, selected for their ornamental value. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Propagation of Lungwort Herb:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn or after flowering in early summer if the soil is not too dry. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Collection: Lungwort Leaves should be gathered during and after flowering, between March and September.
Culinary uses of Lungwort Herb:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Leaves – raw or cooked. They can be added to salads or used as a potherb. A fairly bland flavour but the leaves are low in fibre and make an acceptable addition to mixed salads, though their mucilaginous and slightly hairy texture make them less acceptable when eaten on their own. The young leaves make a palatable cooked vegetable, though we have found the texture to be somewhat slimy. The plant is an ingredient of the drink Vermouth.
Actions: Demulcent, expectorant, astringent, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary.
Part used: Leaves.
Indications: Lungwort herb has two broad areas of use. The one that provides its name is its use in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, especially where associated with upper respiratory catarrh. The other broad area is that related to its astringency. This explains its use in the treating of diarrhoea, especially in children, and in easing haemorrhoids. As with all plants these two broad areas must be seen as part of the whole activity of the herb, acting as a unity. Externally this plant may be used to heal cuts and wounds.
Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “demulcent pectoral tonic for general pulmonary conditions where a gentle tonic is required.” They give the following specific indications: coughs, colds, influenza. Bronchial and catarrhal states.Inflammation of throat or lungs.
Preparation and dosage:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-4ml of the tincture three times a day.
Combinations: For lung conditions, this herb may be used with White Horehound, Coltsfoot or Lobelia.
Other uses of Lungwort Herb:
A tolerant and slow growing ground cover plant for open woodland and border edges. Plants should be spaced about 50cm apart each way.
Esoteric uses of Lungwort Herb:
Air magick, offering to the Gods of air, blessing while traveling by air.
- Flavonoids; quercitin and kaempferol
- Miscellaneous; tannins, mucilage, vitamin C, saponins, (unspecified). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, common in other plants of the Boraginaceae, have been shown to be absent from all samples of Pulmonaria officinalis tested.