The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Lycopus virginicus L.
  • Labiatae
  • Mint family

Common Names

  • Gypsywort
  • Sweet bugle
  • Water bugle
  • Western bugleweed

Back to Top

Parts Usually Used

The whole plant (usually the aerial parts)

Back to Top

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Bugleweed is a perennial plant 6-40 inches in height; the leaves are lance-shaped, strongly toothed, the lower ones with long, narrow bases. Flowers are in axils, with broadly triangular calyx lobes, shorter than the nutlets. Blooms July to October.

Another variety: American bugleweed (L. americanus) also called cut-leaved water-horehound; the most abundant of about 7 or so species in our range; distinguished by its lance-shaped, strongly cut or toothed leaves. Found on low ground throughout North America. Flowers in July to September. The leaves of this and other bugleweeds (Lycopus species) are traditionally used as a mild sedative and astringent in heart diseases, lung ailments, etc.

Another variety: also called gypsywort or bugleweed (L. europaeus) is a little known but efficacious medicinal plant. In Switzerland it is found in some parts of the Churfirst mountains at an elevation of up to 3,280 feet. Used in similar ways to bugleweed (L. virginicus).
Back to Top

Where Found

Wet places, Nova Scotia to Georgia; Arkansas to Oklahoma, Nebraska to Minnesota.

Back to Top

Medicinal Properties

Sedative, astringent, mild narcotic, tonic

Back to Top

Biochemical Information

Tannin, lithospermic acid, phenolic substances and traces of essential oil

Back to Top

Legends, Myths and Stories

The Chinese variety (L lucidus) closely resembles bugleweed (L. virginicus), but the Chinese plant has emmenagogue and diuretic properties and is used for delayed menstruation and urinary problems.

Rafinesque thought exceedingly well of bugleweed’s general properties, further he claims that it acts somewhat like digitalis, lowering pulse, without producing any bad effects, nor accumulating in the system.

The Herbalist Almanac states that most writers believe the plant is narcotic, but “we, however, infer, both from our own experience, and that of others, that it is only a sedative”.

Back to Top


Used especially for heart diseases, chronic lung ailments, coughs, fast pulse, thyroid diseases, diabetes. Science has confirmed the potential value of this plant in treating hyperthyroidism, especially when combined with motherwort. Effects are only noted after taking the combination for 2 weeks.

Back to Top

Formulas or Dosages

Should be used in its fresh state, or freshly tinctured, not dried.

Infusion: use 1 oz. of the herb, cut fine, to 1 pint of boiling water. Let cool and take a cupful several times a day
Back to Top


Generally bugleweed should be avoided during pregnancy, as are most herbs in this category.

Back to Top


Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Back to Top