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The Practical Herbalist

Purple Loosestrife

Well known in this area for being an invasive species, the purple loosestrife plant has has been in the past acclaimed for its beauty and its medicinal properties. The pretty purple flowers attract butterflies, and its affinity for wet soils, made this plant a favorite in some flower gardens. The plant unfortunately spreads out of control and threatens native vegetation.

From a medicinal point of view, the leaves and stems of the purple loosestrife is a bitter astringent herb that is good for treating infections. Specifically it is good for treating any type of infection where there is a discharge, from the infection site, diarrhea, or bleeding. It is considered a mild remedy, and traditionally would have been mixed with similar herbs to enhance the effects of clearing the infection. Often used internally it was also used topically in the form of washes and salves to deal with skin infections. Another interesting use was for smudging or burning to get rid of insects.

Loosestrife unfortunately has not gained the popularity of some other local plants like echinacea and bilberry which are easily found on the supplement shelves of stores. If it were, we might have the situation of people harvesting the loosestrife for profit and decreasing the problem of this invasive plant. When the incentives have been high enough, man has over harvested many species into extinction.

Unfortunately purple loosestrife is just one of many plants that can do the job of a herbal antibiotic. It is not unique or valuable, and has fallen out of common use. Very few herbal texts even mention the herb and its indications for use.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066