Let’s be honest, there are more attractively named plants than bogbean but try not to let the name put you off. This aquatic plant gets its name from the swamps and marshlands that it calls home.
Like so many plants, bogbean contains a number of useful compounds and offers a range of potential health benefits. If you would like to find out more about bogbean and what it might do for your health, we think you will find this article of interest.
What is Bogbean?
Bogbean, known scientifically as menyanthes trifoliata, is a semi-aquatic plant that thrives in soft wetlands like marshes and swamps. The name bogbean may be an accurate description of this plant but it has a number of other common names.
These include marsh clover, buckbean, water clover and herbe à Canards, bog hop, swap hop, bog nut, bitterworm, brook bean, moon flower, water shamrock and bitter trefoil.
Plant Habitat and Description
Bogbean is a perennial aquatic plant native to shallow wetlands in Europe, parts of Asia and North America. Even though the plant can be found growing from Alaska to Wyoming, it has become an endangered species on many states of the USA.
The plant typically thrives in a number of wetland areas including bogs, swamps, ditches, lakes and at the edge of overgrown ponds.
The rhizomatous plant grows to a height of up to 30 centimeters above the water. It has thick, creeping roots which can wither attach to the ground or be seen floating freely in the water. The leaves and flower stalks rise above the surface of the water from thick rhizomes that spread widely.
The plant flowers in June and July. Many people associate bogbean with clovers or trifolium but they share little in common beyond the three leaflets. They are actually quite easy to differentiate by their flowers. Clovers have butterfly-like flowers typical of many plants in the pea family while bogbean flowers are totally different.
In fact, bogbean has two types of attractive flower. One has a long style with short stamens, while the other is short style with long stamens.
While the common name may not conjure up images of beauty, flowering bogbean plants provide a wonderful sight in marshlands around the world. Sadly, the plant is becoming more rare and in certain parts of the world including Southern Finland, loss of habitat has led to its complete disappearance.
Health Benefits of Bogbean
Bogbean contains a number of compounds with medcinal properties that can offer a variety of health benefits. These include flavonoids, tannins, bitter glucosides, loganin (found in the plant’s roots) and menyanthin (found in its leaves. The plant also contains flavonglycosides, rutin, hyperoside and amall amounts of volatile oil.
While bogbean has been used traditionally to help treat a range of internal conditions and also applied topically to help treat the skin, there is very little in the way of scientific research regarding its effects.
However, a recently published study has looked into the effects of bogbean extract on cancer with very interesting results. More on that later.
The following are the main traditional uses of bogbean :
Bogbean may help improve digestive health in general and help treat a range of common digestive complaints. The leaves have been used traditionally in the form of a tea to help ease indigestion, stomach pain and cramping.
According to proponents, bogbean likely works by stimulating the secretion of the body’s digestive fluids. The herb may also help improve the absorption of nutrients into your body.
By improving your overall digestive health and stimulating the production of digestive fluids, bogbean may also help boost your appetite. This is especially useful at times when your appetite is low like when you are recovering from illness.
Rheumatism and Arthritis
Studies have isolated certain compounds from bogbean and found that they have anti-inflammatory actions. (1) This might be why so many people have used the herb traditionally to help deal with joint pain stemming from conditions like arthritis and rheumatism.
Fatigue and Muscle Weakness
Bogbean has also been used throughout the years to help boost energy levels for people suffering from general fatigue. It has also been used traditionally to help boost muscle strength.
Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Bogbean can also be applied topically to help deal with a range of inflammatory skin conditions. Some of the skin conditions treated traditionally with bogbean include eczema, psoriasis, rash and general skin inflammation.
It might work because of its anti-inflammatory properties while studies have also revealed that bogbean contains certain antibacterial compounds. (1,2)
Animal studies have demonstrated that bogbean may help improve the health of your kidneys. One study published in 1995 found that rats treated with bogbean extract responded significantly better following renal ischemia than rats that were not treated with the herb. (3)
As I mentioned earlier in the article, a very recent study published in 2019 has looked at the potential anti-cancer effects of extracts taken from the bogbean plant. (4)
The researchers found that root extracts from bogbean had a cytotoxic effect against glioma cells. The researchers conceded that more research was necessary but based on their results, they were encouraged by the anticancer potential of the herb opening a potential new avenue to further research.
How to Use Bogbean
Bogbean is available in the form of liquid extracts and tinctures. The dried leaves can also be used to make a tea.
There is no reliable dosage information but two cups of tea a day is sometimes recommended. Add one or two grams of the dried leaves to a pot of boiling water, allow the tea to steep for ten minutes and drink up. The tea tastes quite bitter so you may need to add honey to taste.
Side Effects and Precautions
As is the case with most herbal remedies, just because it is natural does not mean that it is always safe. There are certain precautions that you should be aware of before using the herb.
Bogbean is probably safe to use in food amounts and may also be safe for the majority of healthy adults in medicinal doses. However, there is very little safety data regarding the use of bogbean for humans and it may not be safe in very large quantities.
- Reported side effects include stomach irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and pain.
- Pregnant women should not use bogbean. There is a lack of data regarding its use by pregnant women so stay on the side of caution and avoid using it.
- Women who are breast-feeding should also avoid using bogbean. We so not know what effect it may have on the nursing infant but there are concerns that it could cause diarrhea.
- People with diarrhea, colitis or dysentery should avoid using bogbean because it could make the condition even worse.
- Bogbean might slow down the blood clotting process. People with bleeding issues should avoid using bogbean because it could make their condition even worse.
- People with a scheduled surgery should avoid using bogbean. Because of its potential to slow down blood clotting, you should not take bogbean in the two weeks leading up to surgery.
If in doubt, you should always consult your medical provider before using this or any other supplementary remedy.
- Bogbean is an herb that grows in wet arras like marshlands, swamps and st the edge of ponds.
- The leaves are used to make an herbal medicine that people have been using traditionally for centuries.
- Bogbean has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Recent studies suggest it may have anti-cancer potential.
- Bogbean is mostly used to help improve digestion, increase appetite and ease joint pain.
- It can also be used topically to help treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.