Japanese Knotweed may be the biggest girl in the world. From the Japanese Knotweed Alliance’s website:
In total biomass terms, this clone [made up of huge masses of genetically identical Japanese Knotweed plants the world over] is probably the biggest female in the world! In Swansea alone [city and county on the Southwest coast of Wales] the infestation has been estimated to weigh 62,000 tonnes, which equates to 400 blue whales!
Did you get that? 400 blue whales worth of invading Japanese Knotweed in a single county! Yes, the people of Wales must transfer all their measurements to whales!
This “invasive species” grows about 3 to 9 feet tall, has a reddish hue, and looks similar to bamboo -except for its long heart-shaped green leaves. It is most often found along river banks.
Many attempts have been made to remove our stalwart new neighbors. The pick-axe and shovel often end up breaking off smaller pieces of the root cluster that flow downriver to expand the clean-up operation.
Poisons, toxins, and metals, isolated, refined and combined by humanity offer great opportunities for the Knotweed to show-off its detoxification skills. In Invasive Plant Medicine, Timothy Scott writes:
The prolific presence of this plant in roadside ditches and on other polluted and toxic land is a clear indicator of its ability to transform heavily contaminated soils. It has been shown to tolerate and actually clean soils contaminated with zinc, lead, and copper and is found throughout old copper and zinc mine areas and along notoriously polluted streams. (pp 227-228)
Wise plant writer Stephen Buhner made the observation that Japanese knotweed usually moves into an area shortly before Lyme disease infections begin. So Japanese knotweed is causing Lyme Disease?
Quite the opposite. According to Buhner it can be the best medicine for Lyme.
Yeah, that means Swansea, Wales has 400 blue whales of this medicine.
Ok, it’s not all 400 blue whales worth since the root cluster (or rhizome or whatever) is the actual medicine but the densest part of 400 blue whales is still a lot of medicine. And it has spread far beyond Wales and gotten way bigger than a few hundred whales. If you find some in an area that hasn’t been too heavily impacted by man, harvest the root in spring or autumn and preserve it by drying. Removing those rhizomes will be good exercise. Don’t worry, it’s easy to order online, too.
So what makes Japanese knotweed great medicine for Lyme disease? Stephen Buhner lists the beneficial actions in his book Healing Lyme*:
- Stimulating microcirculation, esp. to the eye, knees, heart, and skin
- Reducing inflammation in tissues
- Protecting and correcting heart function and reducing inflammation in heart tissue
- Reducing autoimmune reactions to Lyme
- Wide-spectrum antibiotic/antiviral action
- Immune enhancement
- Acting as a synergist with other herbs or drugs in the treatment of Lyme
- Protecting endothelial integrity from Lyme spirochetes and Lyme co-infectious agents such as bartonella
- Reducing reactive oxygen species production in the central nervous system and brain
Japanese Knotweed’s application as a medicine extends far being treating Lyme. It has been used in Asia for over 2000 years and hundreds of studies have displayed long-term safety and efficacy for a variety of ailments (Healing Lyme p.107).
Japanese knotweed is not just for the sick: consuming this powerful rhizome while healthy can help boost the immune system and ensure that future infections (including Lyme) are unable to take root.
Check out Timothy Lee Scott’s essential Invasive Plant Medicine and all of Stephen Buhner’s books -specifically the recently released new edition of Healing Lyme. *I have the 2005 edition so page numbers and quotes may be slightly different in the new one. His basic Lyme protocol can be found here.