WHAT IS HOUSELEEK?
Houseleek which is known scientifically as Sempervivum tectorum is a medicinal plant with its origins in Europe. It is a very hardy plant which can thrive in unlikely areas and under extreme conditions.
Houseleek can grow on most types of soil and can even be seen in rocky, barren and dry areas. It is also able to grow in extreme temperatures whether cold or hot. These days, because of its ability to thrive in a range of conditions, houseleek is a fairly common site around the world.
Houseleek is one of around 40 plants in the sempervivium genus which are common throughout the world. This perennial evergreen grows to between 15 and 20 centimeters in height and has broad, green leaves around 3 inches in diameter. During the summer months, the plant bears reddish purple flowers in clusters.
Since ancient times, houseleek has been used both topically and internally to treat a variety of medical conditions including fevers, ulcers, wounds and skin complaints. It certainly has a very long documented history of use and the Romans regarded it as a love plant which they grew outside their windows.
Houseleek was not always regarded as just a medicinal plant and it had various uses beyond the purely ornamental. If you are curious about its strange name, it makes sense when you learn that in times gone by it was believed that it could protect the home from evil spirits, spells, lightning strikes and fire.
Even in this day and age, you can still see evidence of these traditional beliefs …. in many parts of the world, houseleek is still a common site on balconies, backyards and rooftops.
Some of the plants names in other languages are a reflection of its purported ability to protect us from the elements. It is variously named in some places after the thunder god Jupiter. Some of these include thunder plant, Jupiter’s beard and Jo-barb.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF HOUSELEEK
Houseleek is still used as a medicinal plant today and is believed to be effective because of its chemical composition. The plant contains malic acid, formic acid, tannins and calcium malate as well as small amounts of resin.
These compounds are thought to give houseleek certain medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and diuretic abilities. Although the scientific evidence may be lacking, houseleek is commonly used to treat various conditions including cysts, hemorrhoids, ear infections, colitis and infections of the urinary tract.
It is also used to deal with a number of skin complaints such as warts, cuts, burns, rashes and mouth ulcers.
The most common ways to use the plant are in teas or juices while it is also combined with honey for certain conditions. It can be used both internally or topically depending on the condition that you are trying to treat.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HOUSELEEK
The reported health benefits of houseleek include the following:
- It can help to treat ear infections.
- It is effective against diarrhea.
- It is an effective remedy for infections of the urinary tract.
- It can improve digestive complaints such as cramps, bloating and constipation.
- It is effective against hemorrhoids.
- It is effective against cysts, fibroids and warts.
- It can help be topically applied to help soothe skin irritations from burns, bites and rashes.
HOW TO USE HOUSELEEK
Houseleek tea is fairly easy to make and can be used as a soothing remedy for various conditions. You can either drink the tea or use it as a topical application to deal with skin problems and minor wounds. In order to make the most of your houseleek and enjoy its therapeutic benefits, you should use the freshest leaves possible.
HOW TO MAKE HOUSELEEK TEA
All you will need to make this therapeutic tea are a couple of fresh houseleek leaves and some hot water.
- Cut the leaves and shred them very finely.
- Put the leaves in a pot and cover them with 250 ml of water.
- Bring the water to the boil then simmer for between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Strain out the leaves and allow it to cool.
- You only need to drink a quarter of a cup or so with your meals three or four times each day.
Houseleek tea has a very calming effect on the stomach and is especially useful for people suffering from digestive cramps, urinary tract complaints and heavy menstruation.