What are the medicinal properties of Dipsacus fullonum, and what role does it play in the modern herbalists dispensary?
The rational behind this paper was to investigate whether the herbs Dipsacus fullonum and Dipsacus sylvestris provide beneficial medicinal properties and whether or not they could still occupy a role in the wider British herbalist’s dispensary. In order not to confuse the reader, both D. fullonum and D. sylvestris within this body of work unless otherwise stated, will be viewed medicinally as the same plant (Kartez, 2008) and referred to as Dipsacus spp or Teasel.
Teasel is a herb that over the centuries was invaluable within the British textile industry and to a lesser degree the herbal apothecary (Davison, 2001). The root was known medicinally as a bitter depurative, whilst water from its basal leaves was used to soothe and beautify the eyes (Hill, 1939). Today we find little more than anecdotal passages in our modern herbals concerning the use of teasel, and minimal information regarding the herbs uses, constituents and pharmacology, whilst medicinal research is largely devoid of the herbs mention.
Two distinct methods were used to investigate the therapeutic properties of teasel. Firstly a systematic literature review consulting historic and modern texts, whereby information gathered has been presented in a monograph format. Secondly a semi-structured interview was conducted with three herbal practitioners skilled in teasels use. The results were analysed using thematic analysis, a qualitative method, and the results or themes composed separately. Both forms of literature were then compared and contrasted to ascertain Dipsacus spp’s therapeutic properties.
Analysis of the interview and literature data appears to show that teasel still holds a place within the British herbalist’s dispensary and is suitable for treating chronic skin disorders and musculoskeletal inflammation and damage. With our over-reliance on importing herbs from all corners of the Earth, this easy to grow native herb may once again fulfill a role within our modern dispensary.