Viper’s bugloss is closely related to the common bugloss and is a member of the Boraginaceae family of plants. It is native to Europe including the British Isles but is found in most countries from United States to New Zealand.
Do not handle this plant without gloves, as the hairs on the leaves and stems can cause severe dermatitis. This herb is not suitable for internal use by pregnant women and as such must be avoided.
Bugloss, on the other hand, means ox tongue, apparently because of the roughness of the leaves. It is generally held that reverence limited the use of references to Christ in plant names so it is unlikely that the use was ironic.
The leaves and flowering tops are used in infusions and decoctions for coughs and other respiratory problems and are also used to soften the skin and relieve inflammation and redness.
In poultices, the fresh leaves and flowers are apparently useful for getting rid of boils and hard skin. Medicinally it helps provoke a sweat and has diuretic properties too, thus helping the body expel toxins.
Like comfrey it contains allantoin which makes it useful for healing injuries by promoting growth of new cells.
The leaves, especially those growing near the root, make a good cordial on infusion, which operates by perspiration and alleviates fevers, headaches and nervous complaints, relieving inflammatory pains. Viper’s bugloss is one of, if not the best plant to attract bees to your garden.
Along with Borage and Phacelia, the plant is much loved by almost all bee species, especially bumblebees. The plant is said to be efficacious in the treatment of snake bites.
The leaves and flowering stems are antitussive, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and vulnerary.
We all use herbal parts in our daily lives, one way or the other, whether for their fragrance, for their healing power, or in lovely recipes.