A remarkable little herb – unprepossessing but pretty, often growing in out of the way and barren locations, considered a weed in some localities, rarely grown commercially and often overlooked in the past – yet Small Flower Willow Herb (Epilobium parviflorum) is a deceptively powerful little plant.
Small Flower Willow Herb contains similar active constituents to those believed to make Green Tea so beneficial, it also contains the active constituents from the more famous (undeservedly) Saw palmetto, it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, a raft of antioxidants and is considered to have a significant anti-microbial ability.
You might think this was enough for one little plant but it is only the beginning of a story…
Small Flower Willow Herb has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for a long time, like many traditional herbal remedies the development of its use is lost in the famous ‘mists of time’. It has traditionally been believed to be effective generally against abnormal growths and tumours, to be a remedy for prostate disease and problems and a treatment for male and female urinary, bladder and kidney problems (including cystitis). Also it is considered to have great powers in calming the digestive system (particularly in the treatment of diarrhoea) and has also been considered beneficial when applied to the skin and eyes as a soothing balm, reducing inflammation, irritation and discharge. The pioneers in the use of this herb were the people of Central Europe and native peoples of the North American continent.
Not surprisingly, over recent years some serious research has been applied to Small Flower Willow Herb to try and unveil its secrets and potential. Major research in pharmacological departments in Poland, Italy, Austria, France and Canada have uncovered some of the secrets of Epilobium species. Small Flower Willow Herb is powerful, it seems that it may effect the hormonal systems within the body. Two macrocyclic ellagitannins have been identified, oenothein A and oenothein B, which seem able to inhibit the enzymes 5-alpha-reductase and aromatese, important in the control of male hormones in the body and considered important players in the development of prostate cancers and tumours and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Oenothein A and oenothein B may explain the observed ability of concentrated extracts of Small Flower Willow Herb to be active against the abnormal growth of prostate cells.
Furthermore Small Flower Willow Herb also contains the major active agents found within Saw Palmetto, namely b-sitosterol and sitosterol glucoside. As well as the gallic acid and ellagitannins present in Green tea as mentioned above.
The belief by traditional herbalists for decades that Small Flower Willow Herb could treat tumours and cancers may turn out to be due to the active constituent oenothein B, which as well as inhibiting potentially harmful enzymes as described above may have an the ability to act against and even reduce certain tumours. Oenothein B and similar compounds have been used in various studies in this area, with some promising results in research into possible anti viral and anti cancer treatments.
Although it can be seen from any brief review of material published about Small Flower Willow Herb that it is primarily seen as an effective treatment for prostate problems, the reason that it helps with this makes it useful for other conditions. Epilobium parviflorum may prove to contain effective agents against hyperandrogenism (an over abundance of male ‘sex’ hormones) which can be damaging in several ways. Male pattern baldness has been linked to this condition, as well as prostate disorders and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Oenotheins can disrupt and decrease the overall potency of male hormones, which although necessary can do damage in excess, particularly in later life.
Many of the constituents and properties of Small Flower Willow Herb are yet to be understood, many of the compounds are highly complex. We have dwelt largely on a simplified examination of some of the research which has only perhaps ‘scratched the surface’ of this herb as yet. Research into Small Flower Willow Herb has tended to concentrate on its impact in the treatment of prostatic disorders, but Epilobium parviflorum has been considered equally effective in other areas also as touched on above. Its effectiveness against stomach upsets was honoured by Europeans and land people in Canada in the past, and it seems there is more to be discovered here. Its ability to calm and reduce inflammation and irritation as well as its analgesic properties may be what could make it so effective in cases of diarrhoea, a debilitating and recurrent problem for many. Small Flower Willow Herb appears, from traditional usage and reports, to be effective in treatment of bladder and kidney problems generally. What we understand of its constituents may explain this to some extent, its proven anti microbial and intriguing possible anti viral properties might also be a powerful factor. Small Flower Willow Herbs ability to tighten skin and reduce inflammation makes it a useful skin treatment also and it has been incorporated into various cosmetics for this reason. Some research has shown it may be specially effective against the bacterium often causing acne.
Despite the power within this herb, Small Flower Willow Herb appears to have no discoverable side effects, this contrasts sharply with many of the conventional medicines used to treat many of the conditions treated above.
Finally, although we believe very much that this herb can make a real difference, please, if you think you are suffering from any medical condition, your doctor is also an essential source of information and help also.