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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Gipsywort, Sweet Bugle, Virginia Bugle, Virginia water-horehound, Water Bugle, Water-horehound, Western Bugleweed
(Lycopus virginicus)
image 1 image 2


Not to be taken by PREGNANT women!
NOT to be taken in cases of hypothyroidism or with thyroid enlargement without functional disorders!
NOT TAKEN simultaneously with thyroid medications!
Bugleweed interferes with diagnostic procedures using radioactive isotopes!

SIDE EFFECTS: Rare cases have been reported in therapy of long duration of an enlargement of the thyroid. If on Bugleweed therapy, the sudden cessation of its use can cause increased symptoms of the disorder.

OTHER KNOWN ACTIONS: Inhibition of the peripheral deiodination of T4; lowers prolactin level.

CONTAINS: Hydrocinnamic acid derivative, caffeic acid derivative, lithospermic acid, flavonoids, tannins, phenols, essential oil, stachyose.

This member of the mint family is native to the United States. It possesses an minty odor and a bitter taste. Slender, smooth or hairy, square stems rise from a perennial creeping root in moist to wet soil to 2 feet; leaves are 2 inches long, elliptic, dark green or purplish, serrated; flowers are purple, arising from the base of the leaf stalk, 4 lobed, and with 2 stamens; fruit is actually 4 nutlets, meeting together to make a larger whole. Roots sometimes have tiny tubers growing from them. Bugleweed appeared in the USP of the late 19th century.

PROPAGATION: By seed in autumn or spring.
NEEDS: Grown as a crop in moist soil in sun or part shade.
HARVEST: Plant is cut as flowering begins (just before buds open), then dried for use. L. virginicus has also been used fresh or in fresh tinctures. Juice also used in liquid extracts.
PART USED: Whole above ground plant
GIPSYWORT (Lycopus europaeus) image: Similar effects. Has been used for hyperthryroid with accompanying palpitations; combined with other nervines like skullcap or valerian for nervous problems. Peripheral vasoconstrictor, astringent, sedative, thryocine antagonist, anti-tussive. Contains flavone glycosides, volatile oil, tannins.
CHINESE BUGLEWEED aka Shining Water Horehound, (Lycopus lucidus) image: Has been used for over 2000 years in Chinese medicine for painful menstruation, pain of injuries, heart problems, and incontinence. Considered emmenogogue and diuretic and has been used for delayed menstruation and urinary problems. Has been combined with other herbs in liniment form for bruises and injuries. Has also been used in decoction form for abdominal distention, abcesses, amenorrhea, cancer, congestive edema, dropsy, dysmenorrhea, metrorrhagia, renitis.
CUT-LEAVED WATER HOREHOUND (Lycopus americanus) image: Probably better known as Paul's Betony, it can be found growing in wet conditions throughout Canada and the United States. Stiff square stems are smooth or hairy; leaves are deeply cut into almost separate parts in the lower portion of the leaves, sometimes merely toothed in the upper portions; rootlets do not possess tubers. Combined with other herbs was used by the Meskwaki for stomach cramps.
Lycopus uniflorus image: A more northern growing variety found throughout Canada which is distinguised from L. virginicus by the length of the angles of the nutlets.
CROW POTATOES (Lycopus asper) image: Rare variety found spottily from Minnesota to Iowa and west to British Columbia and California. The tubers were used dried and boiled by the Chippewa as a food.


Bitter, aromatic, diuretic, peripheral vasoconstrictor, astringent, sedative, nervine, antitussive, antihemorrhagic; was used to control bleeding, suppress cough, lower blood sugar; inhibits thyroid-stimulating hormones; affect on heart is to slow and strengthen contractions. Affects spleen and liver. Inhibits action of thyroid hormones and reproductive hormones associated with the menstrual cycle. Also reduces prolactin (hormone which triggers production of breast milk).
Has been used for mild hyperthyroidism, heart palpitations, coughs related to heart disease, nervous coughs, weak heart (especially when associated with edema), mastodynia (tension and pain in breast), tuberculosis, hemoptysis, hemorrhage in the stomach and bowel, diabetes, excessive urination, and excessive menstruation.
Has also been used for heavy metal poisoning (combined with yellow dock for lead poisoning) and environmental pollutants.
Has also been used for asthma, bleeding, bronchitis, colds, coughs, fevers, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, pulmonary hemorrhage, nervous indigestion, Multiple Sclerosis, nerves, nosebleeds, pain, sores, and ulcers. NOTE: Although it was used in conditions of inflammation of the lungs, it was said not to cure, but merely to be helpful.
Once used by early settlers in the New York and New Jersey areas of the United States for diarrhea and dysentary.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!

NOTE: Dosages in cases of hyperthyroidism are difficult to assess; age, weight and amount of thyroid function must be considered; even then only a rough estimate can be made as the optimal dosage per individual.
DRY HERB = 30 to 60 grains
INFUSION = 1 tsp herb, cut fine, in 1 cup boiling water, steep 10 minutes; taken cold, one or two cupfuls per day, a large mouthful at a time.
TINCTURE = 1 to 2 ml, 3 times daily.

The juice of Lycopus americanus is used as a permanent dye on wool, silk, and linen.

©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH