The natural world has a great deal to offer beyond its beauty. A multitude of plants, trees, flowers and herbs contain a wide range of healing compounds that can do your health the world of good. Unlike powerful pharmaceutical medicines, medicinal plants and herbs are far less likely to cause adverse side effects or issues of dependency.
We often have our ancestors to thank for finding the right plants for the right medical conditions but modern scientific research is demonstrating that many of these traditional uses were valid. Today we are going to look at the benefits of a plant you may have seen but barely given a second thought.
Speedwell has a number of potential medical benefits from its antioxidant properties to relieving coughs and colds and boosting the skin’s health. If you would like to find out more about this plant and how it can benefit your health, then read on.
What is Speedwell?
Speedwell known botanically as Veronica is a perennial plant that is very easy to grow. It is the largest member of the Plantaginaceae family. There are some 500 species of veronica growing in clusters from one to three feet in height. The plant has long attractive spikes of little petals that are colored blue, pink, purple or white blooming from spring until fall.
The plant has long been regarded as a medicinal herb hence its name which means to ‘thrive’ well. It was used by the Germanic tribes in northern Europe before spreading across the continent. It was also used by the native Americans for treating coughs, colds and other congestive troubles.
These days, speedwell is not one of the more popular herbal remedies but it is still used to treat a range of illnesses. The plant’s leaves, stems and flowers are all used to make a medicinal tea, the plant is also edible and has a taste similar to watercress.
The plant is highly nutritious and is loaded with antioxidant polyphenols. It also has natural expectorant, astringent and diuretic properties giving it a wide range of potential health applications.
- Speedwell is also commonly known as gypsyweed and bird’s eye.
- There are over 500 species of speedwell.
- Speedwell is an edible and highly nutritious plant. It has a taste much like watercress.
- A nutritious tea can be made form the plant, this is the most popular way of using speedwell for health purposes.
- Native Americans used speedwell to relieve congestion and asthma because of its natural expectorant properties.
- In Ireland, people pinned the plant to their clothing to keep them safe from accident.
- Speedwell is sometimes confused with mint family members like skullcap. You can distinguish these plants since the mint family has square sided stems while veronica plants have rounded stems.
- Speedwell is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- It also has astringent properties and is sometimes used externally on the skin.
Health Benefits of Speedwell
There is very little research into the specific health benefits of speedwell and we are largely reliant on traditional and anecdotal evidence. Studies have however revealed that speedwell contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
According to research, speedwell contains a range of beneficial compounds including several phytosterols and phenolic compounds. According to studies, the main components found in the plant are p-coumaric acid, luteoline, ferulic acid, β-sitosterol and hispidulin. (1)
According to research, speedwell contains a healthy dose of powerful antioxidants that can help protect against disease and reverse the damage caused by environmental free radicals. It is important to get as many antioxidants into our system as possible to combat the effects of oxidative stress.
Antioxidants not only protect the cells from damage but they can also have an anti-aging effect on the skin helping you to look younger and healthier.
Several species of veronica have been analyzed for their antioxidant benefits including Veronica officinalis L, Veronica teucrium, Veronica spicata and Veronica beccabunga. (1) (2)
Colds, Coughs and Respiratory Health
The use of speedwell to treat coughs and other respiratory symptoms goes back hundreds of years. Treating coughs is still one of the most common uses of speedwell and speedwell tea today.
The plant is believed to act as a natural expectorant that can help clear up the build-up of mucus and phlegm allowing people to clear their airways and breathe more comfortably. As well as its expectorant properties, speedwell has proven anti-inflammatory actions that can help reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Some people use a tea or infusion of speedwell as a gargle to treat a sore throat. According to research, speedwell contains antibacterial properties that may help treat infections of the throat. (3) It Gargling with speedwell tea can also help soothe soreness in the throat and mouth.
According to research, Veronica officinalis or common speedwell has anti-inflammatory actions, which may explain its traditional use for respiratory and digestive health conditions.
One study published in 2013 found that the herb inhibited pro-inflammatory mediators in human lung cells associated with inflammatory lung disease. The results were positive but the researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory effects of speedwell extract needed further research on animals and clinical trials before its potency was known. (4)
As well as being used for internal inflammation, speedwell can also be applied topically to relieve inflammation in the joints from conditions like rheumatism and arthritis.
People also drink speedwell tea to treat digestive troubles and to boost appetite during times of sickness and recovery.
As we have already mentioned, the herb has excellent anti-inflammatory properties which may contribute to improved digestive health. It is also used to treat diarrhea naturally owing to its astringent properties that can reduce the secretion of mucus in the intestines and prevent loose stools.
Urinary tract Infections
According to proponents, speedwell possesses mild, natural diuretic properties meaning that it can help boost the production and frequency of urination. This can help treat urinary tract and bladder infections.
Liver Health and Detox
Speedwell may also help cleanse the liver and help the body to detoxify itself more quickly. By boosting the metabolism, speedwell may help the body get rid of toxins and alcohol and other unwanted substances. Some people use speedwell to increase the production of sweat which also helps eradicate unwanted toxins from the system.
Speedwell can also be applied topically to the skin to help boost the skin’s general health and also to treat a range of common skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis. The plant contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds that are ideal for the skin helping you look younger and tackling a variety of skin complaints.
You can also apply speedwell tea to minor wounds, cuts or burns to help relieve swelling and prevent bacteria from taking a hold.
How to Use It
Speedwell is available in the form of tinctures and liquid extracts. It is also commonly drunk in the form of a tea. You may have speedwell available in your garden or near your home but you can also buy the plant in dried form ready to make a healthy cup of tea.
Speedwell can either be taken internally, applied to the skin or used as a gargle to treat a sore throat. Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions on the label before using tinctures or any other supplementary form of the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is speedwell good for?
Speedwell is commonly used to treat coughs and other respiratory troubles. It is also used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and rheumatism. People also use speedwell to treat digestive troubles like diarrhea. It can be used as a gargle to treat a sore throat while it can also be applied topically to the skin to deal with a range of skin complaints.
How do you make speedwell tea?
Speedwell tea is very easy to make. Simply add one or two teaspoons of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Strain and add honey to taste.
Is speedwell good for the skin?
Speedwell has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties making it a good choice as a skin tonic as well as a natural remedy for various common skin conditions like eczema. Speedwell also has natural antimicrobial actions and people use it to treat minor wounds, cuts or burns.
Side Effects and Precautions
- Speedwell is believed to be safe when consumed in sensible doses. There are no reports of adverse side effects however nothing is known about its long term effects so care needs to be taken.
- There is no information regarding the safety of using speedwell when pregnant or breast feeding so stay on the side of caution and avoid using the herb.
- While speedwell is considered safe, there is not enough information at present to determine an appropriate dose. Read the directions on any product labels and consult an expert if you are in doubt.
- Speedwell is a perennial plant that has been used for hundreds of years to treat various conditions including coughs, congestion, sore throat and digestive health.
- Studies into its effects on specific health conditions are lacking but traditional use suggests it has a number of uses. Studies have revealed that the plant contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
- Speedwell is usually drunk in the form of a tea but other supplementary forms are available.
- It can also be applied topically to treat a range of skin conditions.
Have you ever used speedwell and what did you think of its effects? Please let us know, we would be delighted to hear from you.