Purple loosestrife.

Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 14:28:41 -0400
From: Conrad Richter <conrad.RICHTERS.COM>
Subject: Purple loosestrife

> I have been reading about this most interesting herb. It has many beneficial properties and was used with great success during the Cholera epidemics in England, 1848, 52-3,1864 and 1868. It was called the "soverign remedy" for cholera. However, it has had some bad press lately. It seems to like wetlands and has a tendency to drive out some native species. For this reason it has been purged in the United States. It seems a shame that its bad habits will doom it as a useful healing herb with myriad uses and proven efficacy in many ailments. What do you suppose could be done to keep this plant from becoming extinct in the US and Canada and how could we rein it in to prevent it from destroying species in wetlands? What a dilemma.

Most people are surprised to learn that purple loosestrife has very potent hypoglycemic and hepatoprotective properties. Simple alcoholic extracts were demonstrated to have these effects on laboratory animals a few years ago. For example, animals treated with carbon tetrachloride, a compound very damaging to the liver recovered almost completely when treated with purple loosestrife. In animals treated to induce diabetes, purple loosestrife brought blood sugar down to normal.

I agree with the above writer that we have a dilemma here. In fact, I would go one further and say that the plant has been unfairly maligned. It has been in North America for over 100 years. But it seems to be getting out of hand only in the past few decades. How much of its spread is really the result of a damaged ecosystem in which the ability of native species to compete has been impaired by pollution?

Conrad Richter