Perennial herb growing to 2 ft (60 cm). Has long-stalked compound leaves with 13 leaflets, and purple flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe, North Africa, and temperate regions of Asia greater burnet flourishes in damp pastures, especially in mountainous regions. It is cultivated as a fodder crop and as a salad vegetable, and is gathered in summer.
Aerial parts, root.
Greater burnet contains tannins, including sanguisorbic acid, dilactone (a phenolic acid), and gum.
History & Folklore
In Europe, greater burnet has long been used as a fodder for animals and as an ingredient in beer-making. As its Latin name implies, it has also been employed as a wound healer: sanguis means “blood”; sorbeo means “I staunch.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Greater burnet is still used to slow or arrest blood flow. In both the Chinese and European traditions, it is taken internally to treat heavy periods and uterine hemorrhage. Externally, a lotion or ointment may be used for hemorrhoids, burns, wounds, and eczema. Greater burnet is also a valuable astringent and is employed for a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, dysentery, and ulcerative colitis, particularly if accompanied by bleeding.
Chinese research indicates that the whole herb heals burns more effectively than the extracted tannins. Patients suffering from eczema showed marked improvement when treated with an ointment made from greater burnet root and petroleum jelly.