Purple Loosestrife / Salicaire commune
Lythrum salicaria (Lythraceae) – Purple Loosestrife is also known as loosestrife, lythrum, purple willow herb, spiked loosestrife, blooming Sally, milk willow-herb.
Parts used: The herb consists of the aerial parts of the herb – it is best to use half flowers/half leaves. Harvest at the start of to mid-way through its flowering period form July-August.
Habitat: Originally native to Europe and Asia purple loosestrife is now naturalized in North America to the point of being considered a notoriously invasive plant. It is a perennial. Usually found alongside or within swamps and marshy areas. In areas that have been disturbed (usually by humans) purple loosestrife can crowd out other plant species. In areas with a more natural balance the plant is not as prone to spreading. In recent years research has shown that purple loosestrife can actually help to rehabilitate damaged wetlands by absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorus.
Properties: Antiallergenic, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, antioxidant, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, hemostatic/styptic, lymphatic, pancreatic and vascular tonic.
Uses: Excellent for upper respiratory tract infections, swollen lymph glands, conjunctivitis, colitis, IBS, leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea and dysentery. It is particularly effective for conditions of the digestive tract because it is both astringent and demulcent. The herb tightens the tissues (due to the tannins it contains) and so helps reduce any looseness of the bowels. Simultaneously, as a demulcent, the herb helps to soothe and heal irritated tissue. The plant is also one of the few with an action upon the pancreas and has been shown to lower blood sugar. Purple loosestrife is also excellent for healing ulcers. For infection of the eyes it is much superior to the more popular eyebright. An infused oil of purple loosestrife is very healing for burns.
Preparation/Dosage: Fresh or dried herb infusion or tincture. Not commonly available commercially but readily available for wildharvesting.
Safety Considerations: Not for use during pregnancy and/or lactation.