BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION AND IMPRESSIONS:
Bugleweed is often referred to as an odorless mint. It has the square stem and could be confused with skullcap in some ways. However it actually does have an odor, it is just not minty. It has a somewhat resinous smell and when rubbed it deposits a resin on the skin. If harvesting bugleweed without gloves a blister will develop on the fingers used to pull with because of the friction created by the resin. Bugleweed grows either in wet areas or in the perimeter. It is definitely a water plant and even grows in the edge of water sometimes around ponds. It loves the area where a pond has been drained and will quickly multiply until eventually the tree overgrowth will overtake it, because Bugleweed needs pretty much full sun to thrive. It doesn’t get really tall, only about 6 to 18 inches maximum. The name Lycopus means wolfs paw because of the resemblance of the cut leaf to a wolfs foot. It has a smooth square stem (obtusely four angled), with concave sides, supporting opposite, oblong, ovate or lanceolate, serrately-toothed leaves, having on their under surface small, glandular dots. The entire plant is smooth and often purplish. This variation of color is more pronounced in different species and it sometimes they grow close together and this could be confusing. The stem sometimes sends off long, slender runners. The flowers, which appear in midsummer (July and August), are very small, and arranged in dense, axillary whorls, or capitate clusters of a purplish color. Its virtues are supposed to depend upon a volatile oil and tannin. The part used is the flowering tops broken off in such a way as to leave one or two branches. This allows the plant to continue to grow and go to seed. Although it also spreads by runners.
Bugleweed is a very useful herb which is overlooked by most of the herbal world in today’s profit driven herb culture. It is a very unique herb which is very certain in its action. It is a plant which is without doubt given special medicinal properties. It is noted for its sedative influence and has a special affinity for the heart. The main indication in this regard is tumultuous pulse and irregular heart beat. The action of the nervous system and heart are closely interrelated and thus bugleweeds sedative influence would naturally prevent many nervous reflex conditions for the heart, but seems to go beyond just the ordinary connection in this regard. It appears that Bugleweed has a specific action on the heart as a tonic to the muscular fibers improving their tone. This action helps the heart to retain normal tone and thus overcome conditions where the heart becomes dilated or hypertrophy. It is also noted to overcome the suffering and anxiety common in heart diseases. Also in inflammation of the heart such as endocarditis and pericarditis, bugleweed quickly subdues the inflammation. It is stated in Kings that Cardiac disease, both functional and organic are markedly impressed by Lycopus (bugleweed). So Bugleweed’s affinity for the heart is not simply due to its affect on the nervous system as would be the case in say passion flower with which it is combined for its sedative effect. The most famous use of Bugleweed in cardiac conditions however is its specific effect in cardiac palpitations and irregular heart beat.
One interesting point of Bugleweed in its sedative properties is its use in what is referred to in Kings as Morbid vigilance. This is an old medical term meaning fear of death or worrying about death. This is a pretty unique indication. Also Bugleweed is of noted use in insomnia.
A condition which I have used Bugleweed in with great success over the years is Diabetes. Most of the persons we have worked with were clinically diagnosed with diabetes and many were insulin dependant. I followed the reference in Kings and also one in Ellingwoods Materia Medica that recommends Fringe tree and I have combined these two with great success. Also to this could be added Goats Rue. The first case we saw the undeniable success in was an elderly black lady who was a mother of a friend who was unable to maintain wait due to Diabetes. She used the combination of Bugleweed Fringe tree with great success. Over the years she was very convinced in the efficacy of herbs due to the remarkable improvement she had in her diabetes treatment. Subsequently, I also became convinced and over the years have seen case after case where people who had blood sugar problems have experienced wonderful results with this simple formula. It is noted that fringe tree works on all the visceral glands which of course would include the pancreas, so Bugleweed is also noted for its use in indigestion, dyspepsia and conditions such as gastritis and enteritis. Thus Bugleweed has an affinity for the digestive action and the pancreas is a visceral gland and this good result in diabetes is probably due to its action on the pancreas. This is one for the research pundits, however it is a fact that the case history definitely supports it’s very important use in Diabetes. In Gastric disturbances it is particularly recommended in the disorders common to drunkards. This would be well combined with Horsemint (Monarda) and cayenne to form a very specific formula for gastric disturbances resulting from alcoholic excesses.
Bugleweed is very much noted for its use in pulmonary complaints and is specific for bleeding from the lungs. It is useful in all respiratory conditions by lessening the irritation in cough and also gives a soothing influence to the heart at the same time lessening the tensive state. When the heart is too tumultuous the blood to the lungs is increased and bugleweed is able to calm the heart in this regard. I have combined it with such herbs as wild cherry (Prunus) Mullien (Verbascum), Horehound, etc in respiratory conditions with very gratifying results, although I would not hesitate to use Bugleweed alone especially where there is tension.
Bugleweed is one of the few herbs that has a very high reputation in Graves disease or exophthalmic goiter. Of course in Graves disease there is hyper activity of the thyroid and thus the pulse is very elevated. Veratrum would also be indicated here. I have used Bugleweed in good success in this condition of hyperthyroidism and it is recommended in Kings also in this condition.
Bugleweed is very safe and the dosage can be increased according to the indication. As in respiratory conditions where there is need to control an irritable cough, I would be inclined to give the 30 to 45 drops 5 or 6 times daily to control the cough. The same may apply in irregular heartbeat until the condition is controlled then it can be taken in 15 to 30 drop doses ex daily for preventative measures The 30 drops 3x daily is the normal dosage and can be adjusted accordingly..