Rose Bay Willow Herb is NOT allowed to grow in my garden. It is one of the weeds I search out and destroy – preferably before it sends out its fluffy seed parachutes. I have nothing personal against it – it’s really pretty. But if I allow it in my garden OTHER PEOPLE will think I don’t weed it! I must change my attitude. Rose Bay Willow Herb could be my friend. I shall cultivate it from now on.
Rose Bay Willow Herb once was rare. It was a special flower grown deliberately in gardens. It became more common and widespread during the last 100-150 years. Rose Bay Willow Herb has spread dramatically, along corridors of suitable habitat created by new railways in the 19th Century.
Isn’t it pretty? And it has medicinal properties…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.