Scientific: Lycopus americanus [WikiPedia]
Composition: Lycopus contains rosmarinic acid, a phenolic compound derived from caffeic acid and found in several other Lamiaceae plants, all indicated historically for the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Rosmarinic acid, and the related lithospermic and chlorogenic acids, may exert an antithyroid effect in cases of hyperthyroidism.
Appearance: Not to be confused with Carpet bugle or common bugle (Ajuga virginicus), bugleweed is a marshland native to Europe and naturalized to the United States in the 17th century by colonists who grew it for its beneficial qualities. The herb is also known as gypsywort or waterhorehound. It bears clusters of white, bugle-like flowers where stems connect to leaves. It is of the lamiaceae family, but is often referred to as the “odorless mint”. The botanical name Lycopus refers to the resemblance of the cut leaf to a wolf’s paw, which also explains the plethora of common names in many languages referring to wolves.
Parts Used: Dried leaves and flowers.
Common Uses: Bugleweed’s reputation for treating an over-active thyroid aka hyperthyroidism is exciting, even if hyperthyroidism is more common in cats than dogs. Hyperthyroidism shouldn’t be confused with hypothyroidism. While hyperthyroidism describes an overactive thyroid, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland underperforms. Nevertheless, dogs that do struggle with this condition can see some serious results with bugleweed. Bugleweed might reduce the body’s production of thyroid hormone. Bugleweed also seems to reduce the release of the hormone prolactin, which might help relieve breast pain. Bugleweed is used to lower high levels of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). It is also used to treat premenstrual syndrome; breast pain; nervousness; trouble sleeping (insomnia); and bleeding, especially nosebleeds and heavy bleeding during menstruation.
Dogs with hypothyroidism, a condition caused by an underactive thyroid gland, should NEVER take bugleweed.
- Because bugleweed slows thyroid function, it makes an excellent treatment option for dogs with hyperthyroidism. This condition is caused by an overactive thyroid gland and produces symptoms like excessive thirst, excessive urination, increased appetite, irritability and hyperactivity, weight loss, and panting. Bugleweed, which is available in nutritional supplement formats, can aid in reducing thyroid function.
- Bugleweed derives most of its medicinal goodness from the presence of lithospermic acid, which has been known to help treat tachycardia. This herb can help normalize the heart rate and provide quality relief, plus it is suitable for long-term usage in dogs that are not nursing or pregnant and dogs without hypothyroidism.
- Bugleweed has been used to relieve respiratory distress in humans and may have the same effects for dogs. Due to anti-inflammatory compounds in the herb, it is believed that bugleweed makes an appropriate treatment for conditions like excessive coughing, sore throats and shortness of breath. Bugleweed aids in soothing respiratory passages and subsequently aids in alleviating irritation.
- Bugleweed has qualities as a soothing agent as well. It’s believed it can help calm anxious dogs and can be used as a safe sleep aid. Bugleweed helps in regulating sleep patterns and can assist in calming uneasy nerves. Many believe that this benefit occurs as a result of bugleweed’s capacity for normalizing the heart rate.
Topic Specific Research:
- Extract of Lycopus europaeus L. reduces cardiac signs of hyperthyroidism in rats [PubMED];
- Antihormonal effects of plant extracts: iodothyronine deiodinase of rat liver is inhibited by extracts and secondary metabolites of plants [PubMED];
- Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort): effects on the thyroidal parameters and symptoms associated with thyroid function [PubMED];
- Improvement of symptoms in mild hyperthyroidism with an extract of Lycopus europaeus [PubMED];
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.