The Many Uses of Purple Loosestrife
Since antiquity, man has been aware of purple loosestrife and used it for different purposes. The Greeks believed that hanging garlands wreathed with the flowers of this herb around the neck of oxen provided encouragement to the team to cultivate or till a field in harmony. In addition, they used the plant to prepare a hair dye and also used them in fumigate to repel pests and insects. Since purple loosestrife has rich tannin content, later herbalists used the plant for its astringent qualities in the form of eyewash. This herb was also used to treat diarrhea. The Greeks also used purple loosestrife to staunch bleeding - a use of the herb which is explained by its botanical name Lythrum, which has been derived from a Greek term which translated into English, literally meaning ‘gore'.
Lythrum salicaria or purple loosestrife is primarily cultivated for its therapeutic uses. Similarly, beekeepers also grow this herb since the flowers of purple loosestrife produce copious amounts of nectar. At one time, the leaves of this beauty were employed to cure ulcers, wounds and lesions. Since purple loosestrife possesses astringent properties, it is basically used to treat dysentery and diarrhea. In addition, this herb may also be employed to cure heavy menstrual bleeding as well as inter-menstrual hemorrhages. It is also applied externally in the form of a poultice or salve to wounds, eczema, and leg ulcers. Although people seldom use purple loosestrife as eyewash these days, experiences of the English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer Nicholas Culpepper hints that this herb might be of importance for more research and investigation as a remedy for eyes as well as vision. Used along with other species of lysimachia, the entire purple loosestrife plant is believed to possess astringent as well as demulcent (any medicine or substance that causes soothing) attributes. Herbalists have often employed purple loosestrife for cleansing the lymph. Many other attributes of this herb are similar to those possessed by other species. This herb may especially be beneficial for treating several of the contemporary diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, for instance irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, leaky gut syndrome and many others, since purple loosestrife is a helpful remedy for diarrhea. In addition, it possesses healing properties and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
In addition to its therapeutic uses, purple loosestrife is also grown as an ornamental garden plant. The flowers of this plant are attractive and several cultivars of this species have been chosen for distinction in the color of their flowers. For instance, the cultivar ‘Atropurpureum' bears deep purple flowers, while the blooms of ‘Brightness' deep pink in hue. Another cultivar ‘Happy' produces red flowers that emerge on short (approximately 60 cm) stems, ‘Roseum Superbum' has big pink flowers and ‘Purple Spires' bears purple flowers that grow on a long stem. Although native to Europe, bee keepers have introduced purple loosestrife in several regions of North America, since this plant not only produces a profusion of flowers, but they also yield substantial nectar.
Warning: This plant, although beautiful and beneficial, can be invasive. Make sure to plant in an area where you won't mind it taking over....it will fill a garden bed quickly with gorgeous purple flowers!