Sweet woodruff is thought to possess tonic properties and also has noteworthy anti-inflammatory and diuretic actions. The chemical substance coumarin and flavonoids enclosed by this herb are responsible for its positive effect in treating phlebitis and varicose veins. In addition, sweet woodruff has also been employed in the form of an antispasmodic and is administered to children and adults alike to cure sleeplessness or insomnia. It may be noted that sweet woodruff has a long reputation for being a tonic for curing liver ailments. It is also globally well known as the aromatic ingredient for making May wine and even to this day this herb is used in punches as well as other drinks. Present day herbalists prescribe sweet woodruff in the form of a purgative as well as an anti-arthritic. Several studies have hinted that sweet woodruff is likely to be useful only for easing the symptoms of arthritis. Currently, people cultivate sweet woodruff primarily for its use as a ground cover. Sweet woodruff possesses tranquilizing attributes and infusions prepared from this plant are ingested to treat insomnia as well as nervous irritability. In addition, sweet woodruff also puts off blood coagulation, reinforces the capillaries and is taken orally to cure thrombophlebitis (inflammation of a vein with presence of thrombus).
Sweet woodruff is indigenous to Europe and also grows in Asia as well as the northern regions of Africa. This herb grows on its own in the forest lands and shaded locations. Sweet woodruff is harvested during the later part of spring when the plants are in full bloom. Sweet woodruff is a perennially growing herb, which serves as an excellent ground cover and spreads very fast. It is possible to propagate this plant by means of root division or cutting during spring. Alternately, sweet woodruff may also be grown by its seeds, which need to be sown immediately when then ripen. However, when grown by its seeds, the germination process is very sluggish. Generally, sweet woodruff is not cultivated, but gathered from the forests. Nevertheless, this plant can be grown beneath orchard trees as well as propagated by its seeds soon after they ripen. The seeds need to be sown in beds prepared with good soil. It is best to sow the seeds by July end or in the early part of August. Alternately, if you intend to propagate the plant by means of root division, it should ideally be done in spring or the early part of summer, immediately after the flowering season is over. The seedling ought to be planted in damp soils, at intervals of one foot, in places that are partly shaded. The seeds of sweet woodruff take too much time to germinate and, therefore, it is best to adopt the root division method for its propagation. It is advisable that you either divide the roots of mature plants and sow them during spring or fall, or take cuttings of mature plants and plant them for rooting in a mixture of perlite and peat moss. Plant these cuttings at least at a distance of one foot from each other. It may be noted that this plant is actually self-sowing and when sweet woodruff plants are established, they may turn out to be a pesky weed. The leaves of sweet woodruff are collected during the later part of spring prior to the appearance of the flowers. After harvesting, the leaves should be hung upside down in a dark place to dry them out. Alternately, the leaves as well as the stems of the herb may also be frozen for use when necessary. As soon as the plant's seed is somewhat mature and dry, it turns into a small rough ball that is densely covered with supple, curved hairs. These seeds are white underneath, but black-tipped and may get attached to the fur and feathers of animals and birds that may rush through the undergrowth. This way the sweet woodruff seeds are normally scattered.
Sweet woodruff contains coumarins (0.6%), iridoids, anthraquinones, tannins, and flavonoids. The flavonoids are diuretic and act on the circulation.
In Germany, people use the tender sweet woodruff plants to prepare May wine during spring and is taken in the form of a spring tonic. The ingredients required to prepare May wine punch include: