To speak highly of something, the ancient Romans used to say that it was like veronica, full of virtue and goodness. The Romans came across the plant veronica, known as speedwell in English, while conquering Europe. It was highly regarded by Celtic and Germanic tribes and it soon found its way to the Roman pharmacopoeia where it had pride of place as “the cure of the world”, a cure for everything. According to Plinius, veronica was actually betonica, a plant that originated from a Celtic tribe. The root of the word veronica is the latinised form of the Greek vereniki – that which brings victory.
In England, the plant’s name is derived from the archaic meaning of the word to speed – to flourish, to progress. The Germans, who have been using speedwell since time immemorial, call it the “honour award”; the plant that erases oblivion. Therefore knights often wore wreaths with its flowers to honour their chivalrous knightly endeavours in the Middle Ages.
INSPIRATION AND MEDICINE
Whatever the origin of the name, it was obviously an inspiration and was used as a cure in many nations. In the traditional medicine in the Balkans, speedwell occupies an important place and has been used for centuries to treat different diseases and conditions. This perennial herbaceous plant belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family and grows in forests and meadows throughout Europe. It likes dry land but not rocky Mediterranean terrain. It is adorned with many blue-purple flowers, while its green leaves are purple and hairy on the back. The medicinal part of the plant is above ground, it is harvested while in bloom, and alcoholic tinctures and teas are made from it. Fresh juice made from heath speedwell is a folk remedy for inflammatory skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis, and it also helps with wounds that are difficult to heal.
Speedwell infusion contains tannins and has a bitter taste; as it is a natural astringent, it has the power to shrink or constrict pores and body tissues. In the 19th century, because of its taste, it was used as “pauper’s tea” in France where it was called Thé d’Europe (European tea), a substitute for black tea, the same as chicory which is used as a substitute for coffee. It is precisely those substances that give it its bitter taste that contribute to its healing properties. In addition to them, the plant also has organic acids, polyphenols, resins, saponins, glycosides, essential oils and vitamins C, K and E. In effect, heath speedwell contains over 100 ingredients thank to which it has found wide application, from folk medicine to the cosmetic industry, which has been proven by numerous studies.
WHAT DOES HEATH SPEEDWELL CURE?
It was exactly tannins in veronica that helped soothe the unbearable gout pains that the Spanish King Carlos V suffered from. This plant also cleanses the blood and rejuvenates, lowers uric acid, decreases inflammation, joint aches, it reduces skin irritations and is excellent to treat eczema and pruritus, it calms the stomach and aids healthy digestion. Speedwell is great for nerve problems, it calms the body and mind, brings relaxation in the evening, makes it easier to fall asleep and eliminates depression, it is a real friend of those who are forgetful. It contains mannitol, which improves memory, it has a beneficial effect on the central nervous system and eliminates dizziness – therefore speedwell is used as a prevention and cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Heath speedwell is a powerful antioxidant and it also successfully eliminates microbes; specifically, studies have proven its effectiveness against the Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria ivanovii strains.
CLEANSER OF BLOOD VESSELS, URINARY TRACT AND LUNGS
Speedwell’s other beneficial effect is on the urinary tract: it improves the work of kidneys and the expulsion of sand, it cures infections and encourages drainage.
Heath speedwell works through diuresis, enhances the elimination of water and thus literally cleans the kidneys and the urinary tract, expelling everything that does not belong there, especially sand and stones. With its anti-inflammatory effect, this medicinal plant protects the kidneys and prevents tissue damage.
Being an excellent lung cleanser, it helps expel mucus from the lungs in a number of respiratory diseases, including bronchitis, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it relieves chest pains and soothes smoker’s cough. When it comes to the respiratory tract, its anti-inflammatory abilities that prevent inflammatory lung diseases are especially pronounced.
As it cleanses the whole body, it cleanses the blood vessels. Heath speedwell reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, and thus cardiovascular diseases, and also the risk of developing breast, prostate and colon cancer. Modern medicine has tested its effect on ulcers: a study has confirmed the plant’s significant anti-ulcer effect – it cures ulcers of the stomach and duodenum and stimulates the regeneration of the mucous membranes of the digestive organs.
In conclusion, heath speedwell has not only been an inspiration in mythology, knighthood and in herbal medicine. It has entered modern literature via Deanna Raybourn, an American author of historical fiction and historical mysteries who has written the Veronica Speedwell series, books that take us back to the Victorian era in England. They follow the intrepid adventuress and sleuth Veronica Speedwell, who is a natural historian, a butterfly hunter and world traveler who is always up for adventure.
Here it is – an idea to do something beautiful and useful – you can make yourself a speedwell infusion and sip it while reading about Veronica Speedwell’s adventures. You can also take a shortcut – veronica is part of three Herba Svet preparations: in Nefrovit, it cleanses the urinary tract, removes inflammation and sand and repairs microhematuria, small bleeds that occur in the urinary tract when sand or stone are expelled; in Leocardin, it calms heart rythm and cleanses blood vessels; in Disan, it helps expectoration and soothes chest pains. Unlike Deanna Raybourn’s novels, Herba Svet products are not veiled in mystery: everything is simple, natural and accessible.
The following products contain this plant: