The beneficial uses of the Sweet Woodruff herb have long been known to be potent in the areas of digestive and liver health. The herb is likewise known to possess diuretic, tonic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sweet woodruff is a perennial spreading plant that measures about 6 to 15 inches high. It possesses square, slender stems that are shiny and smooth. Its bristle-tipped, rough-edged dark green leaves are borne from whorls that contain about 7 of them. This herb can typically be found in the gardens and deep woods of Asia, Europe and North Africa. The white flowers have four petals that typically bloom from May to June. These possess the scent of freshly-mowed hay.
The sweet woodruff herb has long been used as a symbolic garland or ornament mostly be Europeans throughout history. Warriors from Germanic tribes put on a sprig of woodruff in their helmets in the belief that it helped bring about victories in battles. Queen Elizabeth I of England was said to have given sprigs of woodruff herbs to people whom she believed were deserving of honor.
Due to its aromatic fragrance, sweet woodruff was once extensively used as an air freshening herb for homes and churches in Europe. It was also utilized as a stuffing for mattresses. The dried leaves give linen closets a sweet aroma and reportedly keep moths away.
In Germany, woodruff is mixed with white wine, orange, strawberries and pineapple to produce the famed punch called May wine. This drink is used as a spring tonic and is also drunk to help celebrate the incoming season. This herb is also used to give flavor to candies, chocolates, liqueurs and others.
The following are the active constituents found in sweet woodruff: coumarins, tannins, anthraquinones and flavonoids. Some species in this genus are known to have the compound asperuloside which can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels).
Sweet woodruff tea can be prepared either of two ways. First, as a standalone tisane, place about 2 teaspoons of dried leaves in a cup of newly-boiled water. Let the mix stand for about 5 minutes, strain and drink. Drink up to 3 cups a day. Alternatively, the dried leaves can also be added to a cup of black tea steeped for about 5 minutes. This produces a uniquely-flavored black tea that combines the health benefits of the tea base and the sweet woodruff herb.
Sweet woodruff herb is generally regarded as safe. However, pregnant and nursing women, as well as children, should avoid its use as its effects are not yet known. People taking anticoagulants and those with liver and kidney disease should first consult their physicians before taking this tea.
Amongst the health benefits of sweet woodruff tea are the following:
- May help to fight varicose veins.
- Said to help improve the appetite and support good digestion.
- May assist in the treatment of certain liver disorders like jaundice.
- Claimed to help fight depression.
- Believed be useful against insomnia.