Its lacy white flower providing a visual treat for the eyes, this plant won’t be seen on your woodland walks, as it thrives best when growing away from dry soil. Indeed, bogbean rises from shallow water, the edge of ponds and, of course, spongy bogs. Used in Europe as a substitute for hops when brewing beer, bogbean has filled numerous healing niches in its role as a green medicine.
What does it do?
Long before people reached for antacids on pharmacy shelves, they relied on herbs known collectively as “bitters” to soothe the ailing gastro-intestinal tract and lend support to important liver functions. Some of the more powerful bitter tonics include goldenseal, rue and wormwood. Bogbean can be added to this list, as its ability to stimulate digestive secretions—including bile—has been appreciated by natural healers for centuries. Bogbean is a potent anti-inflammatory useful in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and other causes of joint pain, and in this role it is being examined for its potential to treat lupus.
About the herb
Also known as buckbean, bogbean received its common names from the fact that its glossy leaves bear a close resemblance to the broad bean. Favoring marshes and even foot-deep waters, this plant—although widespread in its geographical range (Europe and North America)—is not a common sight. Consequently, hiker and camper rarely enjoy its magnificent star-shaped bloom, which is surely one of nature’s loveliest aquatic flowers. On the plus side, bogbean is easy to grow in backyard garden ponds, and it even helps to keep the water clean.
Add one or two teaspoons of dried bogbean leaf to a cup of boiling water and allow the brew to mix for 10 minutes. Three cups daily can be consumed to serve the body as a tonic, to quell the unsettled stomach, or to promote sluggish menstrual discharge. Because bogbean has emetic attributes, take care not to consume too much as it can cause vomiting when used in excess. Avoid if you are currently suffering from colitis, dysentery or diarrhea.