Originally from the Mediterranean region, the plant has meanwhile spread almost all over the world. It can be found on fields, fallow land, rubbish dumps, in gardens or simply on the roadside.The Acker-Gauchheil (Latin Anagallis arvensis ) belongs to the family Primrose Family ( Primulaceae ). In the months of May to October, the creeping, annual herb with its bright red, star-shaped flowers in the diameter of 10-15 millimeters captivates. In small capsule fruits, which reach maturity between August and October, the plant grows their seeds.
Because of its special property to close its blooms in overcast skies or threatening rain, the Acker-Gauchheil in the vernacular is also called Wetterblume, Wetterkraut or fog plant. Dozens of other trivial names (for example, sparrow or peacock), for example, were usually only regionally used. In England he carries - in addition to his official name Scarlet Pimpernel - the pretty name shepherd barometer. Since there is a high amount of saponins in the whole plant, but especially in the roots, it is considered poisonous.
Anagallis arvensis is not used because of the possible side effects in conventional medicine. However, homeopathy and spagyric use the herb for the treatment of painful liver and kidney problems, mild depression and skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, acne or warts.
It is commercially available and administered in the form of tablets, globules (typically in D-potencies), drops or teas, but can also be administered intravenously or intramuscularly as a solution for injection. For the preparation of the homeopathic remedy the whole plant is used. In addition to the already mentioned saponins, the most important ingredients of the plant include various bitter substances, tannins and flavonoids.
Clinical studies on the effects of arable gauchoil on the human organism have not yet been completed, but have already been able to demonstrate its antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties. He also stimulates kidney activity, draining, expectorant, fever-reducing and sweaty. Applied externally as an envelope, it should also help against arthritis.
People who suffer from a primrose allergy are also likely to be allergic to Anagallis arvensis. For them, even simple skin contact with the plant can cause rashes. Even non-allergic people should only use gauchheil preparations low-dose (for example, as part of a mixed tea) and never over a longer period, otherwise poisoning symptoms may occur.
These range from diarrhea, increased urinary excretion (diuresis) and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract to sudden drop in blood pressure or mild anesthesia. In former times, the Acker-Gauchheil were attributed with his medicinal as well as magical powers. He should avert evil in general, but especially the evil eye. In a protective and purifying ritual, peasants burned out the house, barn and yard with gauchheil. The Indians take advantage of the weak toxicity of the plant when fishing.
The name "Gauchheil" testifies to the traditional use of the plant in mental and emotional diseases: "Gauch" was the name of the bird, which we know today as a cuckoo. In a figurative sense, however, the word also referred to a foolish, crazy person or simply a fool. Acker-Gauchheil was already used in ancient Greece for the treatment of melancholy. Hippocrates used it in the form of a powder for the treatment of malignant ulcers.
In Denmark, the strength of Anagallis arvensis used to be appreciated, and it was also used externally in the form of cooling ointments and creams. In neighboring Norway, it was a proven remedy for acid regurgitation. In Taiwan, it is used to treat snake bites.
Homeopathy recommends Anagallis arvensis today as an effective remedy for certain skin conditions and for strengthening in extreme periods of fatigue, if they occur as a result of intense mental activity. Also, patients who suffer from severe itching all over the body, often have nosebleeds or complain of "ant-tingling" in the nasal cavities, treated them with Acker-Gauchheil.
Its healing effects include many types of dermatological complaints, including skin irritation in the area of the fingers and palms. He also provides relief in hemorrhoids caused itching in the anal area. The remedy is not suitable for curing hormone-related skin rashes. Homeopathy also recommends Anagallis arvensis to male patients suffering from urethral pain, urethral burning and purulent discharge from urethritis.
Ancient herbal books prove that the Acker-Gauchheil played a major role in traditional folk medicine. Cooked in wine, he should for example act against toxic insect bites and wounds. Anyone who was bitten by a rabid animal, washed out the wounds with the brew. The water-boiled herb, used as an envelope, should clean wounds, relieve wound pain, and promote wound healing.
Splinters and thorns should be allowed to drive out. The fresh juice from the herb should eliminate warts, relieve toothache and - mixed with honey as an envelope on the eyes - even cloudy eyes can be clear again. Because of its toxicity and the corresponding side effects, however, already at the beginning of the 20th century, more and more people turned to alternative plant remedies with similar medicinal properties.