Gypsywort - Very Useful Herb for Many Health Problems

Gypsy wort

Lycopus europaeus Lamiaceae

At one time gypsies used to darken their skins with the dye yielded by gypsy wort, hence its name. The plant likes damp places and is commonly found on the banks if streams. Gypsy wort bears clusters if tiny white flowers, spotted with purple,jrom July to September.

Parts used

  • Aerial parts
  • The plant may be used fresh or dried.
  • It is made into infusions, powders, tinctures or extracts.


The main active compounds in gypsy wort are flavonoids, tannins and phenolic acid derivatives including caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid. The plant also contains a bitter essential oil and the minerals fluoride and manganese. Gypsy wort owes its medicinal propertiesto its combination of activeconstituents and not to onesingle substance. For example, if manganese is removed from the plant's extract, there is a marked reduction in its effect on the thyroid gland. The same effect occurs when the tannins are removed.

Medicinal uses

Gypsy wort's main use is in the treatment of an overactive thyroid gland - medically known as hyperthyroidism. The plant extract affects iodine metabolism and the release of the hormone thyroxine. These effects were demonstrated in studies published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 1984. Gypsy wort is also recommended for treating hormonal disturbances, period problems and breast pain related to hyperthyroidism.

The plant has other hormonal actions: it can inhibit the production of sex and milk-producing hormones and glucagon, the hormone that increases blood sugar. The tannins in gypsy wort contract the tissues of the body, so helping to suppress dry coughs and stem bleeding.

In 2000 Chinese scientists found that a leaf extract inhibits an enzyme required for uric acid production. An excess of uric acid can lead to gout so there may be potential for using gypsy wort in its treatment


For internal use

TO TREAT hyperthyroidism, gout, coughs
INFUSION Add 1-3g of dried herb to a cup of boiling water. Cover, infuse for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 3 cups a day. LIQUID EXTRACT (1:1 in 2S% alcohol) Take 1-3ml three times a day.

TINCTURE (1:5 in 25% alcohol) Take 1-2ml three times a day.



Plant in damp soil in a sunny or lightly shaded position. The seeds can be sown in autumn or spring.


  • No side effects or toxicity have been reported to date.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Do not give to pre-pubescent children.
  • Avoid gypsy wort if you have a goitre or an underactive thyroid.
  • The herb may interfere with diagnostic thyroid scanning using radioactive isotopes.
  • The herb is used to treat serious conditions, and should be taken only as directed by a medical herbalist.


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