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Cynoglossum officinale L. Boraginaceae. Houndstongue. Distribution: Europe. Culpeper (1650) writes: “... being roasted and laid to the fundament, helps the haemorrhoids. It is also good against burnings and scaldings.” It contains hepatocarcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids and while people are known to eat the young leaves as a vegetable, this is inadvisable. The whole plant is hairy and may cause contact dermatitis. The use of herbal remedies, which contain these alkaloids, by the Bantu of southern Africa correlates with their high incidence of tumours of the liver and pancreas. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley