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Common Name: Gypsywort
Lycopus europaeus is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Europe, including Britain, to the Mediterranean, north and central Asia.
By rivers, streams and ditches, also in marshes and fens[
Tolerates most soil types so long as they are wet. Grows well in shallow water. Succeeds in sun or shade.
Root - raw or cooked. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails[
The fresh or dried flowering herb is astringent and sedative[
]. It inhibits iodine conversion in the thyroid gland and is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and related disorders[
The whole plant is used as an astringent, hypoglycaemic, mild narcotic and mild sedative[
]. It also slows and strengthens heart contractions[
]. The plant has been shown to be of value in the treatment of hyperthyroidism[
], it is also used in the treatment of coughs, bleeding from the lungs and consumption, excessive menstruation etc[
]. The leaves are applied as a poultice to cleanse foul wounds[
]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women or patients with hypothyroidism[
]. The plant is harvested as flowering begins and can be use fresh or dried, in an infusion or as a tincture[
A black dye is obtained from the plant[
]. It is said to give a permanent colour and was also used by gypsies in order to darken the skin[
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.
Division in spring or autumn[
]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.