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Herb: Epilobium

Herb: Epilobium

Epilobium Epilobium parviflorum 

Common names: small-flowered willow herb, small leafed willow herb or hoary willow herb. 

Meet exceptional epilobium  

If you don’t already know about epilobium, then it is a good time to learn more about his wonderful, efficacious herb with its powerful anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. Epilobium has long been a therapeutic staple for general urinary tract health. It is the herb of choice to treat urinary tract problems in males and females including prostate disorders, bladder and kidney disorders. Both traditional and modern medicine have reported how this herb has successfully reduced incontinence in both males and females. Today epilobium is finding popularity again as a unique remedy for male ailments and is extensively used in Europe to treat benign swelling of the prostate and maintain normal kidney and urinary function. It is often called small-flowered willow herb, but don’t be fooled by the name, it is not a willow at all. 

The plant 

Epilobium is a herbaceous perennial plant of the family Onagraceae; there are many species that all belong to the genus of Epilobium. This prolific plant is widespread in Central and Eastern Europe and in disturbed areas of North America, where it is called fireweed because it springs up on ground recently cleared by fire. It mostly grows in coniferous and deciduous forests, on forest clearings and between pines by forest paths. The name of the genus Epilobium is from the Greek words epi (upon) and lobos (a pod), because the flowers stand on top of long, thin, pod-like seed-vessels, looking rather like thick flower-stems. The plant is recognisable by its small flowers whose colour varies from almost white to pale pink to pink and red. Epilobium is a valuable herbal medicine because it is rich in contains flavonoids, quercetin, miricetin, sitosterol, vitamin C and carotene. 

Favourite Folk Remedy

Epilobium was well used in folk medicine, particularly in Central Europe, for the treatment of prostate disorders and abnormal growths and the young plant shoots were boiled and eaten like asparagus. The epilobium tea was administered as a treatment for urinary problems and for various gastrointestinal disorders such as dysentery or diarrhoea. It was also a traditional topical treatment to soothe and heal minor burns, rashes, ulcers and other skin irritations. The plant is mentioned in a Pharmacopoeia of 1880. In Ireland it is called Blooming Sally - Sally being a corruption of the Latin Salix (willow) for its willow-like leaves although it is not a willow. Traditional healers of Canada used extracts of epilobium to soothe gastro-intestinal and bronchial problems.  

Epilobium targets the urinary system 

Although epilobium is best known as a herbal remedy for male urological conditions, of course this also applies to female urinary complaints, such as UTIs or cystitis because it effectively fights against tough bacteria in the bladder and the urinary duct. This herb is extremely effective in the treatment of various kidney diseases - bacterial and other infections, inflammations or tumours. Epilobium is successfully used for treating incontinence or bed wetting in men, women and children.  

Prostate herb a must for male health

So many men over 40 have prostate problems and as they age, the frequency of prostate disorders increases. Epilobium has proven very effective for difficulties urinating related to enlarged prostate and with blood in the urine. The action of epilobium on prostate symptoms can be very swift, occurring within a few days to weeks. This wonderful herb keeps the prostate cells in their normal, differentiated state, allowing them to be the cells they were intended to be. Negligence of abnormal cells can lead to hyperplasia and cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, after skin cancer and is responsible for many men’s deaths every year.  

It was world-renowned Austrian herbalist Maria Treben who brought a lot of focus on epilobium as an efficacious remedy for prostate problems in men and for bladder and kidney trouble and bed-wetting. In her herbal, “Health through God’s pharmacy” (pub. 1982) she shares her successful experiences of people regaining their health from many prostate disorders. This has been scientifically validated in a 2003 study that showed the polyphenols from epilobium reduce the spreading of prostate cells thus helping with benign hyperplasia of the prostate. Of course, age-old traditional treatment of epilobium for prostate problems has more than demonstrated to us its efficacy in this field.  

Superlative prostate specific 

Epilobium parviflorum contains constituents (Elagitannin, oenothein B) that are active anti-inflammatory components. Indeed the herb has a marked inflammation inhibiting and healing effect on acute and chronic inflammation of the prostate and can help to reduce the gland to its normal size. It is recommended that all men over the age of 50 take this herb regularly as a preventative and to maintain prostate and bladder health.  

The two problems that affect the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. BPH, or swelling of the prostate (enlarged prostate) causes symptoms such as urgency to urinate and low or interrupted urinary flow with frequent night urinations. The less-common prostatitis is caused by a chronic bacterial infection of the prostate, which can also cause problems with the urethra and bladder. 

A 2013 study found that epilobium’s potent compounds could stop the growth of prostate cancer cells. The anti-cancer activity of epilobium is likely due to the content of oenothein B, which has been found to exhibit anti-tumour properties as well as supporting the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. It makes an excellent adjunct therapy to enhance allopathic cancer treatment.  

It is wholly justified to conclude that epilobium is a strong natural remedy for prostate diseases. Epilobium causes no side effects, unlike conventional drugs like tamsulosin and finasteride, which may cause irregular heartbeat, digestive problems, headache and chronic fatigue. 

Epilobium likes the skin too 

Epilobium can be used topically as a soothing, cleansing and healing agent to treat minor burns, rashes and ulcers and can also be used in an ointment that helps children's skin problems including infantile cutaneous infections. The herb serves well in therapeutical products for eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, rosacea and other skin conditions due to its antiseptic and free radical scavenging abilities. It possesses powerful antimicrobial effects against a number of bacteria, including the propionibacterium in some acne. No wonder it is sometimes added to cosmetic products, facial tonics and shampoos.  

Other medicinal uses  

The epilobium herb is cooling and astringent and sometimes prescribed to stop internal haemorrhaging. An infusion of the leaves will be found beneficial to treat vaginal discharge (leucorrhoea), heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) and may also be of benefit to help with rectal bleeding. The astringent nature of epilobium and has a beneficial effect on digestion and treats diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A gentle decoction of epilobium finds good use as a wash for inflammation of the eyes (ophthalmia) and a gargle for ulcerations of the mouth and throat. Epilobium has also been recommended for its antispasmodic properties in the treatment of whooping cough, hiccough and asthma, reflecting its historical usage.  

Epilobium is most effective in the form of tea and works beautifully in combination with other herbs to reduce urinary discomfort. Drink several cups a day, regardless of the severity of your condition, in the morning on an empty stomach and in the evening, half an hour before dinner. Drink it until you notice improvement and recovery from urinary or prostate disease.   

Properties: astringent, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, haemostatic, diuretic, anti-tumour, anti-carcinogenic, demulcent, tonic.

Indicated for: Male health maintenance, prostate health, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), enlarged prostate, prostatitis, kidney and bladder disorders, genito-urinary conditions, cystitis, gastro-intestinal disorders, irritable bowel, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, bronchial infections, cellular regeneration, cleansing, detoxification, mouth mucus membrane lesions, menstrual disorders, mucous colitis.

Precautions: No toxic effects are indicated. Epilobium contains substances that affect the production of oestrogen in the body, so pregnant or lactating females should avoid this herb.

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