What is Bugleweed?
Bugleweed is a lesser known herb with a variety of potential health benefits and medicinal properties. Some of its most common uses include treating respiratory illness and bringing balance to the hormones. If you would like to know more about this incredible plant, you have come to the right place.
Bugleweed is the wonderfully sounding common name for the Lycopus virginicus or Lycopus americanus plant which thrives in shady areas with plenty of water like marshes and river banks. As well as bugleweed, the plant is also known as Water bugle, Horehound, Archangel and Sweet bugle.
The herb actually belongs to the mint family but lacks the familiar minty odor of real mint. The plant is a perennial with creeping runners that produce a thick rosette of leaves. The entire plant actually forms a mat or carpet and is commonly used as ground cover. The leaves are similar in appearance to spinach leaves and the plant also produces flowers in various colors from white to various shades of pink, red and purple.
While bugleweed is originally believed to be a native of Europe, it now thrives in various parts of the world, including the US where it is regarded as an invasive plant species.
Like many herbs that people find to be a nuisance, bugleweed should not be dismissed so lightly. The plant contains a variety of medicinal properties which have been recognized for centuries. These days, the leaves and flowers are used to make herbal extracts.
Facts About Bugleweed
- Bugleweed is a member of the mint species.
- Its scientific name is Lycopus virginicus which is very closely related to Lycopus europaeus – its European cousin.
- Lycopus europaeus is commonly known as gypsywort.
- It was traditionally used by European gypsies for cosmetic purposes hence its common European name.
- Bugleweed is commonly used for respiratory disorders, thyroid issues and anxiety.
- It is also used to normalize the heart rate in people suffering from palpitations.
- Bugleweed can be made into a tea but is also available in supplementary capsule form.
- Few studies into its medicinal effects are available and we are reliant on anecdotal evidence for its medicinal benefits.
- It contains a number of beneficial compounds including tannins, lycopene, lithospermic acid, flavonoid glycosides. ellagic acid, caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid and essential oils.
The Medicinal Properties of Bugleweed
Extracts made from bugleweed contain a good variety of medicinal compounds. These include tannins, flavonoids, phytochemicals and a range of phenolic compounds. In fact the medicinal compounds found in bugleweed are very similar to those found in mint and other members of the mint species such as gypsywort. In terms of their therapeutic applications, bugleweed and gypsywort have often been regarded as interchangeable.
Bugleweed is believed to have a respectable range of medicinal properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, nervine and vasoconstrictor properties which give the plant a variety of potential uses when it comes to health and wellness.
Now that your interest in the plant is piqued, let us take a detailed look at some of the more popular uses of the herb.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Bugleweed
For Respiratory Illnesses
Like so many other herbs, bugleweed contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds which is why it has traditionally been used to relieve a variety of respiratory complaints. Bugleweed can be used to relieve many of the symptoms of the cold such as coughs and breathing difficulty. It is also used to ease the pain of sore throats and relieve sinus and bronchial congestion.
Bugleweed helps to expel any build up of mucus or phlegm and relieve any inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tracts. With so much going for it, bugleweed seems to be a very attractive natural option especially during those times of the year when people are prone to colds and flu.
If you are coming down with a cold, try making a soothing bugleweed tea.
To Relieve Anxiety
As somebody that has experienced their fair share of anxiety and panic disorders, I am always intrigued by the potential of natural remedies. The alternative is not always so attractive. Pharmaceutical medications are not always as effective as you would hope and they also come along with the very real risk of serious side effects and dependency.
One of the effects of anxiety that many people suffer are heart palpitations and I have lost count of the times that I thought I was having a heart attack. According to traditional use and proponents of the herb, bugleweed can help calm the nerves and relieve the irregular heart beats and palpitations associated with anxiety and stress.
There is no concrete evidence that it will work for you, but giving it a try is a lot less risky than taking a stronger medication.
For Improved Sleep
Because of its purported ability to calm the nerves, bugleweed has also been used to overcome sleeping difficulties caused by stress and insomnia. Millions of people the world over struggle badly to get adequate amounts and quality of sleep and this can have a far reaching impact on their daily lives and ability to function throughout the day.
There is no guarantee that bugleweed will work for you but many people have found use herbal medications as their preferred option and bugleweed is unlikely to cause any harmful side effects. If you are one of those many people who suffer from restless nights, it may be worth giving bugleweed a go, especially as part of an overall sleep strategy.
According to proponents of the herb, it positively interacts with the body’s hormones and helps to balance the Circadian rhythms which can help you achieve a healthy night of rest.
Try a cup of bugleweed tea before bed to relax your mind and hopefully put you in the right state for a good night of sleep.
To Balance the Hormones and Thyroid Health
Undoubtedly the best known reason to use bugleweed is to treat an overactive thyroid. People with hyperthyroidism suffer from numerous uncomfortable symptoms including weakness, fatigue, hair loss and palpitations.
The internet is awash with positive testimonies about the effects of the herb on thyroid levels. A limited amount of research has demonstrated that bugleweed helps treat elevated thyroid levels by inhibiting T4 output.
Bugleweed can also play a role in treating other hormonal problems. According to traditional use, it helps to regulate levels of estrogen in women and protects women from breast pain during their menstrual cycle.
For Grave’s Disease
Many people also recommend taking bugleweed to treat Grave’s disease which is an immune disorder resulting in excessive thyroid hormones being produced. Symptoms of the condition are extremely uncomfortable and include palpitations, tremors, weight loss, lack of libido. It can also cause certain physical changes such as bulging eyes and goiters.
Bugleweed is one of the natural remedies deemed to be an effective remedy for the condition because of its purported ability to inhibit thyroid production.
According to anecdotal evidence, bugleweed helps alleviate many of the symptoms associated with Grave’s disease including the elevated heart rate and palpitations that many sufferers find most difficult to cope with. They do point out however that bugleweed should be taken as part of an overall protocol which includes managing stress. For thyroid complications, a dose of 5 ml of liquid extract twice a day is generally recommended to start.
For Heart Health
The ability of bugleweed to steady the heart rate and eliminate palpitations may be significant when it comes to heart health in general. There is no scientific data regarding its efficacy but many people believe that by calming the heart and relieving pressure on the system, it can help protect against heart attacks, atherosclerosis and stroke.
It may also help to regulate the heartbeat in people who suffer from palpitations.
For Wound Healing
You can safely apply bugleweed topically to minor wounds, cuts and abrasions to relieve pain and inflammation and to help the wound heal up more quickly. Bugleweed has excellent antioxidant properties that can promote cell regeneration and reduce inflammation.
May Help your Complexion
Bugleweed was traditionally used by European gypsies as a topical treatment for the skin. According to traditional use, it helped improve the complexion and was used as a cosmetic remedy in the past. Unfortunately, there is no concrete evidence that it works as a topical skin treatment but it does contain some powerful antioxidants and astringents that can theoretically improve your skin’s health.
Bugleweed is home to numerous antioxidants which can have an extremely beneficial effect on your body and may protect you from an array of potential diseases in the longer term. The phytochemicals present in the herb can help to neutralize the very damaging effects that free radicals have on your cells and organs and reduce the risk of disease in the future.
It is important to get as many natural antioxidants into our system as possible to combat the damage done by free radicals or oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the root of many diseases including serious illnesses like heart disease and dementia.
How to use Bugleweed
Like most herbs, bugleweed is available in health stores in several different forms. It can be made into a tea and is also available in tincture or capsule form. Make sure that you follow the dosage instructions properly and ask an expert if you need any further guidance.
When you stop taking the herb, after long term use, you are advised to wean yourself off it gradually as discontinuing the herb abruptly can cause very high thyroid levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bugleweed used for?
The parts of the plant that grow above ground are used to make a herbal medicine. It is commonly used to treat respiratory disorders like the symptoms of the cold and flu. It is also used for thyroid issues and to normalize hormonal activity. Other potential uses of bugleweed include breast pain, PMS, insomnia and wound healing.
Is Bugleweed edible?
Yes, you can eat bugleweed. The young shoots can be added to salads and it is also used to make a medicinal tea.
Is Bugleweed Safe to Use?
Bugleweed is generally considered to be safe for both oral and topical use. However, pregnant women should avoid using the plant because it may interfere with their hormones. Nursing mothers should also avoid using bugleweed since it may interfere with milk production. People with diabetes should also be careful since it can affect blood sugar levels.
Is Bugleweed Good For Your Skin?
Bugleweed has traditionally been used as a topical treatment for the skin. It contains antioxidant and astringent properties that may boost the skin’s health and appearance. It is also applied topically to treat minor wounds. However, there is no evidence that it can have a positive effect on the skin.
Precautions and Side Effects
- Oral use of bugleweed is believed to be safe for the majority of people however there is concern that thyroid disease should not be self treated. Speak to a doctor before trying to treat any thyroid problem alone.
- Bugleweed is likely unsafe for pregnant women and nursing mothers as it may affect female hormones and milk production.
- Diabetics should exercise caution as bugleweed may reduce blood sugar significantly.
- Don’t use bugleweed in the 2 weeks leading up to surgery.
Bugleweed is a little known member of the mint family with several potential uses. It is most commonly used to treat respiratory issues and thyroid problems. It may also help relax the mind and promote a good night of sleep. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of evidence regarding its efficacy as a medicinal treatment.
Have you ever used bugleweed? Please let us know what you thought of it. We would be delighted to hear from you.