Lycopus (Gypsywort or Bugleweed) is a genus in the family Lamiaceae. They are all herbaceous plants native to Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. The species are most often found in wetlands, damp meadows, and stream banks. Some of the wetland species have become endangered.
The genus includes only perennial species; they spread by both seeds and stems rooting as they grow along the ground. Small white flowers bloom in late summer on leaf axials. Leaves are bright green, pointed, lobed, and like all mints occur in opposite pairs. Some species start with curled purple leaves that unfurl to a bright green coloration. The species in this genus vary in size, but generally grow to about 3–4 feet.
The plant's juice yields black dye, supposedly used by the Roma to tan their skin to mimic Egyptians in Europe, and hence the common name of Gypsywort for Lycopus europaeus.Apothecaries and herbalists use the leaves, stems, and flowers for their astringent and sedative qualities as well as for anxiety, tuberculosis, and palpitations. Some species of the herb also may have narcotic and contraceptive effects. Extracts may have benefits in Graves' disease.
^ abBremness, Lesley, Eyewitness Handbook: Herbs. New York: DK Publishing 1994
^MICHAEL AUF’MKOLK, JONATHAN C. INGBAR, KEN KUBOTA, SYED M. AMIR and SIDNEY H. INGBAR, "Extracts and Auto-Oxidized Constituents of Certain Plants Inhibit the Receptor-Binding and the Biological Activity of Graves’ Immunoglobulins*, Endocrinology Vol. 116, No. 5, 1985, 1687-1693.