Teasel is seldom recommended in herbal medicine today. Those sources that do mention the plant include the following uses: as a diuretic, in treating skin inflammations and fistulas, to promote sweating, and as an aid to digestion. No scientific data are available to confirm any of these effects. In winter many people use the seed heads in floral decorations and bouquets.
The seed heads were also used as combs to raise the 'nap' on fabric in wool textile mills. (Wikipedia)
Weed Description: An erect biennial with small prickles on the stem and distinctive spiny flower heads. Common teasel may reach 6 1/2 feet in height and is primarily a weed of roadsides, pastures, hayfields, and occasionally rosettes can be found in turfgrass. This weed is found throughout the United States except in the northern great plains.
Seedling: Cotyledons are oval to round in shape and occur on short petioles. First true leaves are also oval to round in shape, have rounded or 'scalloped' teeth, and have an overall wrinkled appearance.
Leaves: Plants initially produce a basal rosette of leaves and then flowering stems are produced during the second year. Rosette leaves are oval in outline, have a wrinkled appearance, and have margins with rounded or 'scalloped' teeth. Leaves that occur on the flowering stems are opposite, without petioles (sessile), and are lanceolate in outline. Leaves that occur on the flowering stems are also 'clasping', with their leaf bases completely surrounding the stem. All leaf midveins have short prickles on them.
Stems: Flowering stems are produced during the second year of growth and are erect and branching near the upper portions of the plant. Stems are angled and also have many small prickles that are turned downward on them.
Fruit: An achene that is angled and approximately 2 to 3 mm long.
Flowers: Flowers are egg-shaped in outline but cut off squarely at the base. Flowers are approximately 1 1/4 to 4 inches long and consist of many individual white to lilac flowers that bloom in a circular pattern around the seedhead. Individual flowers are from 10 to 15 mm long and occur on flower stalks (peduncles). Several long, leaf-like bracts also branch out from the base of the flower and curve upward around the head.
Identifying Characteristics: Leaves with a 'wrinkled' appearance, stems with small prickles curving downward, and large spiny flower heads are all characteristics that help to distinguish common teasel from other weed species. When in the rosette stage of growth, however, common teasel might be mistaken for a thistle, Common Burdock (Arctium minus), or Broadleaf Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), but neither of these weeds have leaves that are 'wrinkled' like those of common teasel.
Since the therapeutic uses of the roots of the teasel are still undecided, currently they are not in much use. This herb is helpful in the form of a diuretic, to stimulate sweating and also provide comfort to the stomach. Moreover, teasel facilitates in cleansing the system and helping it to get rid of toxins, in addition to augmenting digestion. Since this herb possesses a strong astringent attribute or has the aptitude to bring the tissues closer, teasel is also effective in treating diarrhea. Simultaneously, teasel also assists in improving appetite, nurturing the stomach as well as healing the liver. Therefore, this herb is also beneficial in curing jaundice, in addition to the problems related to the gallbladder. While there is no precise proof or confirmation regarding the remedial advantages of using teasel, the close relationship of this herb to the thistle family makes it worth a thorough investigation of its attributes as well as therapeutic uses worthwhile.
Conventionally, the teasel has been employed to treat different health conditions, including fistulae (anomalous opening via the skin), warts and even cancerous sores. The root of this herb possesses diuretic, diaphoretic and stomachic properties. An infusion prepared from teasel roots is believed to make the stomach stronger, improve appetite, get rid of impediments of the liver as well as cure jaundice. The root of teasel is harvested or dug out during the early part of autumn and dried for use when necessary. An infusion prepared from the leaves of teasel has been employed in the form of a wash to cure acne. This herb has a traditional history of being used in treating cancer, while a salve prepared from the roots of the herb is employed to cure warts, whitlows and wens. The flowering teasel plant is also used to prepare a homeopathic medication that is employed to cure skin disorders.
In a number of varieties of teasels, the leaves on the upper part of the plant join in a roundabout manner to the stem taking the form of a cup, which collects rainwater. In earlier times, people were of the belief that the rainwater collected in the structure was effective as eyewash as well as in the form of a cosmetic to clear the facial skin complexion. Therefore, teasel has earned another common name - Venus' Basin. In addition, the Greeks were of the view that the roots of the herb possessed cleansing properties and had the aptitude to get rid of warts.
The dried out teasel plant yields a blue dye that is often used as a substitute for indigo. This natural dye is soluble in water. When the teasel plant is mixed with alum, it yields a yellow dye.