Columbine has been regarded as a religious symbol of purity and it is often depicted in paintings together with the Virgin Mary. In traditional herbalism the plant was considered sacred to the goddess Venus.
It is known that the plant has been used as herbal medicine since the Middle Ages and that it was used as a remedy for many ailments, such as high fever due to infectious diseases, chronic rhinitis, haemoptysis (coughing up blood or blood-stained mucus from the bronchi) and enlarged or swollen lymph nodes in neck.
The plant was also used internally as a hepatic agent to treat jaundice and gallbladder ailments.
In Spain, there is a tradition of consuming small amounts of the columbine root in the morning for several days by those who are plagued by stones in the urinary tract.
Columbine has astringent, antiseptic and wound cleansing properties and the root has been used topically in the form of a lotion to treat eczema and to accelerate the healing of wounds and cuts.
A lotion made from the leaves has been used as an herbal remedy for sore mouth and throat and a decoction made from the seeds has been used as hair shampoo to get rid of head lice and scabs.
The dried and crushed seeds were used externally to kill body parasites such as ticks.
Columbine is thought to have some immune-strengthening properties, probably due to the various glycosides found in the plant. The plant was also included in many so-called “blood-purifying” herbal mixtures.