Telephio or "The Madonna's Herb" or "Saint John's Herb"

The great naturalist Linnaeus called it Sedum telephium, summarizing with friendly synthesis its two characteristics: genus (Sedum) the posture of being seated, and the species, its healing powers.

King Telephus was in fact cured, according to Pliny's legend, of a leg injury which would not heal, by a plant whose characteristics are told by Linné to be similar to ours.

Until not very long ago (I'm referring to my infancy), turning to this plant to cure inflammatory ailments of the skin was something natural. I remember being cured by my mother of whitlow at the age of seven. I also remember recognizing the most appreciative characteristics of the leaf's action, the maceration, or as I called it, its "boiling" of the finger which remained in contact with the juice of the plant all night long.

----------(whitlow) is something so banal and of common observation that normally the doctor and especially the surgeon pay it little attention in its initial phase, suggesting to the patient (worried by the immense pain) that he or she do nothing more than soak it in salt water.

The patient then goes to the pharmacist who, looking through his equipment, will advise him or her to use tosylchloramine sodium, ichthyol or the "monk's bandage" (a specialty of the Benedictine Vallombrosan monks called bandage of Father Rimbotti). Perhaps the inflammation, under the cure of these revulsive remedies will subside. On the other hand, instead of healing, it gets worse, forcing the poor patient (who has already passed several painful sleepless nights) to return to the doctor who will then send him or her to his surgeon colleague, or more often than not, to the nearest emergency room.

After a more or less variable waiting period, our patient is treated, according to the degree and location of the inflammation which by this time may be frankly suppurative (full of pus). All surgical procedures call for bloody interventions on the digital bone (of the finger or toe) which, involves atrocious pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, notwithstanding the suffering, healing is not always guaranteed. Sometimes the suppurative inflammation reaches the bone whereupon, it may be necessary to call for an amputation of the digit.

The writer has personally encountered all of these cases and knowing that a few applications of the leaves of Madonna's Herb heal without loss of blood, pain or complications, can't do anything less than recommend its use, I would say even its abuse - given that contraindications don't exist, aside from an allergy which may show up after several days of applications.

Click here to download a leaflet about the telephio.

The Telephio has been studied and used by many authors throughout the centuries, but the one who has summarized and synthesized the plant's characteristics perfectly and still validly was a physician and Benedictine Vallombrosan monk, Fulgenzo Vitman who, in his "DE MEDICATIS HERBARUM FACULTATIBUS" of 1770 described its virtues in the following manner:

Dr. Sergio Balatri

(Last updated: Saturday 10 February 1996)
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