Synonyms: Water Horehound. Gipsy-wort. Egyptian’s Herb.
Common Names : Gypsywort, Gipsywort, Bugleweed, European bugleweed and Water horehound. Another species, Lycopus americanus has also been erroneously called L. europaeus
Habitat: Lycopus Europaeus is native to Europe and Asia, and naturalized elsewhere. It grows primarily in wetland areas, along the borders of lakes, ponds and streams and in marshes.
Lycopus Europaeus is a rather straggly perennial plant with slender underground runners and grows to a height of about 20 to 80 cm (8 to 31 in). The stalkless or short-stalked leaves are in opposite pairs. The leaf blades are hairy, narrowly lanceolate-ovate, sometimes pinnately-lobed, and with large teeth on the margin. It is in flower from June to September, and produces seeds from August to October. The inflorescence forms a terminal spike and is composed of dense whorls of white or pale pink flowers. The calyx has five lobes and the corolla forms a two-lipped flower about 4 mm (0.16 in) long with a fused tube. The upper lip of each flower is slightly convex with a notched tip and the lower lip is three-lobed, the central lobe being the largest and bearing a red “nectar mark” to attract pollinating insects. There are two stamens, the gynoecium has two fused carpels and the fruit is a four-chambered schizocarp. Its carpels float which may aid dispersal of the plant and its rhizomeous roots also allow the plant to spread.
Tolerates most soil types so long as they are wet. Grows well in shallow water. Succeeds in sun or shade.
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Edible Parts: Root. Root – raw or cooked. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails
Part Used: The Herb.
The fresh or dried flowering herb is astringent and sedative. It inhibits iodine conversion in the thyroid gland and is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and related disorders. The whole plant is used as an astringent, hypoglycaemic, mild narcotic and mild sedative. It also slows and strengthens heart contractions. The plant has been shown to be of value in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, it is also used in the treatment of coughs, bleeding from the lungs and consumption, excessive menstruation etc. The leaves are applied as a poultice to cleanse foul wounds. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women or patients with hypothyroidism. The plant is harvested as flowering begins and can be use fresh or dried, in an infusion or as a tincture. Current uses are predominantly for increased activity of the thyroid gland and for premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as breast pain . The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Lycopus for nervousness and premenstrual syndrome.
Other Uses: Dye; Miscellany….A black dye is obtained from the plant. It is said to give a permanent colour and was also used by gypsies in order to darken the skin.
Known Hazards: Known to cause the enlargement of the thyroid gland. Avoid in patients with thyroid disease or given concomitantly with thyroid therapy. Avoid during pregnancy
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.