Small Flowered Willow Herb – Epilobium (Willowherb)
Strong Whole Organic Epilobium Herbal Tincture
Epilobium angustifolium L. is a circumpolar member of the evening-primrose family (Onagraceae). The plant is an abundant perennial that dominates many plant communities undergoing succession, quickly reclaiming disturbed ground such as cut or burned forest, thus explaining its common name, fireweed. It is also commonly known as rosebay willowherb and great willowherb. Willowherb is often employed as the English name for the worldwide species. Canadian Willowherb™ has been used to describe the plant growing in Canada, which appears to possess distinct characteristics from the European plant.
Epilobium in Herbal Medicine
Epilobium includes many varieties that are known collectively by the common name of Willow Herb. Often overlooked as weeds, they have small flowers that resemble wild geranium blossoms, although some of the other varieties have much larger, showier flowers. They like to grow in moist areas like marshes or places where the soil has been disturbed. Willow herb has a long history with the human race, having been used for both food and medicine. It is attributed to be a cooling, astringent herb that is useful for inflammation and problem with the urinary tract.
Epilobium is used to treat prostate problems, bladder problems and bedwetting. It may also be beneficial to the kidneys.
Internally – Traditional uses for this herb includes treatments for enlarged prostate, inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), gastrointestinal disorders, kidney and bladder disorders, rectal bleeding, menstrual disorders, cystitis, urinary infections, diarrhea, mouth lesions and irritable bowel syndrome. Powdered epilobeum has been used to control internal hemorrhage. It has also proven useful in controlling urinary incontinence in both men and women.
Willow herb has a long history of use as both a food and a medicinal. Historically, medicinal use includes oral use of the plant extracts, often in the form of an infusion or tea, as a treatment for prostate and urinary problems including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate; and for various gastrointestinal disorders such as dysentery or diarrhea.
Topically the plant has been used traditionally as a soothing, cleansing and healing agent to treat minor burns, skin rashes, ulcers, and numerous other skin irritations and afflictions. Chemically, the plant contains an abundance of phenolic compounds, tannins and flavonoids, many of which appear to have biological activity.
Willowherb extracts possess antimicrobial effects against a number of bacteria, including recently discovered activity of the Canadian Willowherb™ extract, along with isolated constituents, against the bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes. Myricetin 3-0-glucuronide has been identified as one of the anti-inflammatory components of willowherb.
A special elagitannin, oenothein B, is present in the plant and appears to be an active anti-inflammatory component.
The reported anti-cancer activity of willowherb extract may be related to the content of oenothein B, which has been found to exhibit potent anti-tumor properties, as well as cause inhibition of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. This explains the antihyperandrogenic effects that may be useful in the prevention and treatment of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia (swelling)), as well it supports the use of the extract in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Scientific research has revealed the potential of oenothein B or similar compounds as useful antiviral and anticancer chemotherapeutic agents. The anti-cancer and analgesic properties of willowherb extract have been the subject of recent investigations, where significant activity has been found. The most tangible commercial applications of Epilobium angustifolium to date appear to be those related to the topical use of the extracts for their potent anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and free radical-scavenging effects.
Commercial extracts of the plant are widely used in cosmeceuticals and personal care products ranging from creams, lotions, and shampoos to hair tonics and baby wipes.
Externally – An ointment is made from the plant to treat children’s skin problems. Epilobium angustifolia is sometimes added to cosmetics to help prevent and treat acne, and it is widely added to shampoos and skin cleansers. Therapeutic products for eczema, rosacea and other skin conditions often contain willow herb.
Therapeutic products for various skin conditions such as those for eczema, psoriasis, seborrhea, fungal infections, and rosacea have incorporated willowherb as a functional active ingredient. The main nutraceutical, cosmetic and therapeutic uses of willowherb and its extracts have, over the past 20 years, received scientific support and are explainable, at least in part, by the unusual chemical make-up of the plant.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Epilobium is often combined with saw palmetto for prostate treatments. It is also often an ingredient in many commercial skin products.
Whole plant – All parts of the plant are used, including the bark, the root, the flowers and the leaves.
Epilobium has been found to sometimes interfere with the hormone progesterone, so if you are pregnant, taking hormone replacement therapy or on birth control pills, you should avoid using this herb.
Preparation and Dosage
Tincture doses are strongest and most effective. 1tsp 2-4 times daily or as indicated by your herbal practitioner.
To make an infusion, use 1 heaping teaspoon of the dried herb per ¼ liter of water. Drink only two cups per day, one in the morning before eating, and the second a half hour before you eat dinner. To make the infusion, pour your boiling water over the herb and let steep for ten minutes. Strain before drinking.
This short steeping time is just right when you are making a tea from the flowers or leaves of epilobium. If you are making an infusion from roots or bark, use cold water and let steep for 12 hours. Heat slowly, and then strain before sipping slowly. Infusions should always be taken slowly.