Loosestrife, Purple

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Loosestrife, Purple

Botanical Name: Lythrurn salicaria
Family: N.O. Lythraceae

Synonyms: Lythrum. Purple Willow Herb. Spiked Loosestrife. Salicaire. Braune or Rother Weiderich. Partyke. Lysimaque rouge. Flowering Sally. Blooming Sally.
Parts Used: Herb, root.
Habitat: Europe, including Britain. Russian and Central Asia. Australia. North America.

Description: This handsome perennial, 2 to 4 feet in height, has a creeping rhizome, four to six angled, erect, reddish-brown stems, lanceolate leaves from 3 to 6 inches long, entire, sometimes opposite, sometimes in whorls clasping the stem, with reddishpurple or pink flowers in whorls forming terminal spikes. It grows in wet or marshy places, varying in different districts in the comparative lengths of stamens and styles, colour of flowers and pollen grains. It is odourless, with an astringent taste. It has been used in tanning leather.

The name Lythrum is from the Greek luthron, meaning 'gore,' from the colour of the flowers.

Constituents: Mucilage and an astringent principle, but it has not been analysed.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Although scarcely used at present, Loosestrife has been highly esteemed by many herbalists. It is well established in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, and is used in leucorrhoea and blood-spitting. In Switzerland the decoction was used successfully in an epidemic of dysentery. It has also been employed in fevers, liver diseases, constipation and cholera infantum, and for outward application to wounds and sores.

It has been stated to be superior to Eyebright for preserving the sight and curing sore eyes, the distilled water being applied for hurts and blows on the eyes and even in blindness if the crystalline humour is not destroyed.

An ointment may be made with the water 1 OZ. to 2 drachms of May butter without salt, and the same quantity of sugar and wax boiled gently together. It cleanses and heals ulcers and sores, if washed with the water, or covered with the leaves, green or dry according to the season.

A warm gargle and drink cures quinsy or a scrofulous throat.

Dosages: Of powder, a drachm two to three times a day. Of decoction of root, 2 fluid ounces.

Other Species:
Lythrum hyssopifolia has similar properties.

L. verticillatum (Decodon or Swamp Willow-herb) has similar properties, and is said to cure abortion in mares and cows who browse on it.

A Mexican Salicaria, Apanxaloa, is regarded as an astringent and vulnerary.

Loosestrife is the common name of many members of the genus Lysimachia.