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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Bugleweed?

Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus),from the mint family, is a native of North America. It is closely related to the European herb called gypsywort or gypsyweed (L. europaeus).For medicinal purposes, these two plants are often used interchangeably. The leaves of bugleweed are long and thin and grow in pairs from the stem. Small whitish flowers grow around the stem at the base of each pair of leaves.

The juice of bugleweed can be used as a fabric dye, and it was reportedly used by gypsies to darken their skin, which may be the origin of the common names applied to the European species of Lycopus. Bugleweed also has a long-standing reputation as a medicinal plant. Herbalists have traditionally used bugleweed as a sedative, to treat mild heart conditions, and to reduce fever and mucus...

Several very preliminary studies suggest that bugleweed may be helpful for treating mild hyperthyroidism .

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, heart palpitations, and anxiety. Test tube and animal studies suggest that bugleweed may reduce thyroid hormone by decreasing levels of TSH (a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland) and by impairing thyroid hormone synthesis. 1 In addition, bugleweed may block the action of thyroid-stimulating antibodies found in Grave's disease. 2

Note: Self-treatment of hyperthyroidism can be dangerous. Physician supervision is necessary to determine why the thyroid is overactive to design a specific treatment plan.

Bugleweed may also...

Safety Issues

The safety of bugleweed has not been established. Long-term or high-dose use of the herb may cause an enlarged thyroid. Bugleweed should not be used by individuals with hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) or an enlarged thyroid gland. Pregnant or nursing women should also avoid bugleweed because of potential effects on their children as well as on breast milk production.

Bugleweed should not be combined with thyroid medications. It may also interfere with diagnostic procedures that rely on radioactive isotopes to evaluate the thyroid.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking thyroid medications, do not use bugleweed.

If you are undergoing tests of your thyroid function, do not use bugleweed except on physician advice.