The teasel root is an integral part of traditional herbal medicine. It is especially popular in Asian regions such as China, Korea and Japan, although it is originally from Mediterranean region. In alternative medicine the teasel root is mainly used for complaints related to Lyme disease.
Whilst scientific evidence of its effectiveness is still pending, it is often used in those cases where conventional antibiotics do not work. Teasel is also called fuller’s teasel.
Appearance and occurrence of teasel
Wild teasel’s Latin name, Dipsacus, comes from the Greek word dipsa, meaning thirst. This is because of the cup-like shape of the leaves, which often serve as a source of water for birds and insects.
The teasel is a herbaceous plant, with a growth height of up to 150 cm. It is completely covered with prickly thorns and the basal leaves are arranged in a rosette. The teasel’s flower is blue, grows to 5-8 cm and has an ovoid, elongated shape. The flowering period of the teasel is from July to September.
Between July and October it can be found in warm regions such as flood plains and shores as well as in hilly areas.
Wild teasel originally comes from the Mediterranean region and can still be found in many areas including Morocco, Algeria, Spain, Romania, Turkey and Lebanon.
Active substances and applications
Teasel’s components or main active substances are terpenes, glycosides, bitter substances, saponins and phenols. Through other known plants with the same substances, these already give a small indication of possible applications. Iridoids (monoterpenes) are a group of substances within the medicinal plant family that are highly soluble in water and have antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Effects of teasel as a medicinal plant
In his book about healing Lyme disease naturally, Wolf-Dieter Storl, an ethnobotanist with a focus on naturopathy and phytotherapy, has described the teasel root as a highly effective medicinal plant. This statement is highly controversial in professional circles, as the teasel’s anti-borreliosis effect has only been tested and confirmed in laboratories in animal experiments. Due to the (still) lack of scientific proof in human trials, the teasel root has only found application in alternative medicine. It is presumed to have antibacterial, antiviral and cell-protecting, secretion-promoting and appetite-stimulating benefits. In the Middle Ages, preparations made from teasel root were used externally for warts and superficial wounds and internally to stimulate the liver, for jaundice or stomach diseases.
Use of teasel in veterinary medicine
Teasel root is hardly mentioned in conventional veterinary medicine. However, the traditional knowledge about the effect of teasel is well known among practitioners of alternative veterinary medicine and is therefore used in cases of Lyme disease related complaints, diarrhoea or to stimulate the appetite. For Lyme disease, teasel is often used following a conventional 4-week antibiotic treatment. Ewalia’s line of equine products includes Teasel Liquid.
Important note on feeding teasel to animals
Due to the lack of studies, we recommend that you refrain from feeding teasel to pregnant or lactating animals!
Author: Bianca Becker-Slovacek