encyclopedia

Speedwell

Scientific Names:
Veronica officinalis L. [Fam. Scrophulariaceae]

Forms:
Juice, tea, and extract from the leaves and tops of Veronica officinalis L.

Traditional Usage:
– Appetite Loss
– Arthritic Pain Relief
– Bladder Health Maintenance
– Blood Purification
– Cleansing, Detoxifying
– Diarrhea
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Liver Health Maintenance
– Nerve Health Maintenance
– Respiratory Health Maintenance
– Skin Disorders
– Ulcers
– Urinary Tract Infections
– Wounds

Overview:
Speedwell, Veronica officinalis L. [Fam. Scrophulariaceae], is native to Europe but is now also very common in North America and Western Asia, growing on dry hillsides and in other mountainous regions, and in woods and open fields, particularly in disturbed areas. Named after an 18th century botanist, Veronica officinalis (speedwell) was traditionally used as an expectorant, tonic, diuretic, and astringent. Speedwell tea was once very highly regarded in England as an excellent health tonic and was also used as a relaxing tea. It was traditionally used in folk medicine for treating respiratory, gastrointestinal, nervous, arthritic, rheumatic, liver, renal, and urinary conditions. Speedwell tea was also popularly used as a blood cleansing agent, digestive, appetite stimulant, and diaphoretic (an agent used to induce perspiration and reduce temperature during fever). Externally, speedwell tea was recommended for skin conditions and to promote the healing of wounds and other skin abrasions. Chinese practitioners prescribe it for hepatitis, diarrhea, fever, and boils. The German Commission E has not approved speedwell as a drug officially for treating any conditions because no substantive research or studies were available at the time of review to verify any claims. However, recent studies have reported that speedwell may be an effective prevention and treatment for ulcers. In indomethacin-induced ulcers in albino rats, the anti-ulcerogenic effects of some extracts prepared from speedwell (Veronica officinalis L.) were investigated. The extracts had a significant anti-ulcerogenic activity. In ulcer healing experiments performed in rats by administering reserpine, the extracts were found to enhance the regeneration of the gastric mucosa. These results seem to confirm the popular observations according to which the decoction from Veronica officinalis L. possessed useful properties in the treatment of gastric ulcers. Speedwell is sometimes also recommended for urinary tract infections but evidence of its effectiveness for this problem is lacking.

Active Ingredients:
Speedwell contains: 0.5-1% iridoid glycosides (catalpol, veronicoside [6-benzolyl-catalpol], verproside, ladroside, etc.); flavonoids (mainly derivatives of luteolin); 6-hydroxyluteolin 7-glucoside; mannitol; tannins; chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, etc.; triterpenes; b-sitosterol; all these substances only in small amounts.

Suggested Amount:
Speedwell can be taken as a tea with the recommended dosage of one cup two or three times a day. The infusion is made by pouring boiling water over 1.5 grams (1 teaspoon = 1 gram) of finely chopped speedwell, steeping for 10 minutes, and then straining. Speedwell may also be used as a wash for wounds and skin problems.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
None known.

Side Effects:
None known.

References:

Korzhikova EB. 1991. [Speedwell (Veronica officinalis)]. Feldsher Akush. 1991 Feb; 56(2): 37-9. Russian.

Scarlat M, Sandor V, Tamas M, Cuparencu B. 1985. Experimental anti-ulcer activity of Veronica officinalis L. extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 1985 May; 13(2): 157-63.

Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Speedwell Herb. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, Pp. 523-524.

Wojcik E. 1977. [Occurrence of 6-hydroxyluteolin 7-glucoside in the herb of Veronica officinalis L]. Acta Pol Pharm. 1977; 34(3): 295-8. Polish.

Wojcik E. 1973. [Flavonoids of the Veronica officinalis L. herb]. Acta Pol Pharm. 1973; 30(4): 447-51. Polish.