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Gypsy Wort

Gypsy Wort

Botanical Description & Habitat

Lycopus europaeus, L. virginicus

Labiatae (Lamiaceae)

Common Names
Virginia water horehound

Along river banks, damp habitats.

Medicinal Parts

Historical Properties & Uses

The main application for Gypsy wort is an antithyroidal, which action has been scientifically verified.

In homeopathy Gypsy wort is used as a tincture to treat palpitations and general nervousness.

Method of Action

Gypsy wort has Excellent Hyperthyroid Action
The medical profession used the bitter heterosides (caffeic acid and lithospermic acid) in this plant for several decades to antagonize the activity of iodine in cases of hypothyroid, but abandoned it prematurely when a study was published suggesting the preparation only worked at low altitudes.

Gypsy wort has been shown to have hormonal properties, acting via the diencephalohypophyseal system in the central nervous system to inhibit iodine metabolism and thyroxine release in the thyroid. The result is definite a definite thyrostatic effect in patients with mild forms of hyperthyroidism with autonomic symptoms.

Gypsy wort may also be a Contraceptive
Gypsy wort may also possess contraceptive action through an inhibition of gonadotropic hormones similar to the one it has on thyrotropic hormones.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes Gypsy wort as a cardioactive, diuretic (increasing the force of myocardial contraction and reducing heart rate), peripheral vasoconstrictor, anti-hemorrhagic, antitussive, sedative and thyroxin antagonist, for use in the treatment of nervous tachycardia, Grave's disease with cardiac involvement, irritating cough with copious sputum, hemoptysis.

Specific indications are thyrotoxicosis with dyspnea, tachycardia and tremor. Combined with broom and lily of the valley in cardiac cases; combined with wild cherry, bidens and pleurisy root for pulmonary conditions.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Known Interactions
Gypsy wort, insofar as its diuretic action increases the renal excretion of sodium and chloride, may potentiate the hyperglycemic and hyperuremic effects of glucose elevating agents.

Possible Interactions
The use of diuretics may require dosage adjustments of antidiabetic drugs.

Gypsy Wort and sparteine may have synergistic oxytocic activity. Cyclopropane or halogenated hydrocarbon anesthetics may sensitize the myocardium to the cardiotonic effects of this herb, though the chances of this happening are very slight.

Gypsy wort is synergistic with parenteral calcium salts, pancuronium, succinylcholine, rauwolfia alkaloids, ephedrine, epinephrine, and other adrenergic agents.

The inotropic action of gypsy wort may be reduced by propranolol, but the effects of the two substances on av are additive.

The sympathomimetic action of the uterine relaxant ritodrine HCl and the vasocontricting property of gypsy wort are additive.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Gypsy wort is nontoxic in therapeutic doses.

Preparation & Administration

Use three times daily

Use 1-3g of dried herb

Liquid Extract
Use 1-3ml of 1:1 in 25% alcohol

Use 2-6ml of 1% in 45% alcohol


British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.

Hiller, E. & H. Heglmann. Arzneimittel Forschung, 5(8), 465

Hoerhammer, L. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung, 105(28), 944, 1965.

Kemper, F., A. Loeser & A. Richter. Arzneimittel Forschung, 11(2), 92.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Samec, V. Wiener Med. Wochenschrift, 31, 513, 1961.

Weiss, R.F. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield Publishers, LTD, Beaconsfield, England, 1988.


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