Could Japanese knotweed be a medical marvel?

Usually cast as a villain by homeowners and gardeners, Japanese knotweed is currently enjoying a rare bit of positive press. New research published this week by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore has shown Japanese knotweed to be one of the most effective plant-based remedies for treating Lyme Disease.

Caused by the Borrelia bacteria, spread by ticks, Lyme Disease is thought to affect around 8,000 people each year in the UK and is notoriously difficult to diagnose. It can trigger exhaustion, heart palpitations and joint pain and if left untreated can cause more serious problems such as meningitis, facial paralysis and permanent joint damage. Up to one in five people fail to respond to antibiotic treatments, which means the hunt is on for an alternative remedy.

Researchers tested 14 plant extracts and found just a one per cent solution of Japanese knotweed was enough to kill the bug. Along with Ghanaian Quinine, knotweed outperformed antibiotics to be the most effective plant in tackling the disease.

In his book Japanese knotweed: Unearthing the Truth, published in 2018, our MD Nic Seal talked about the potential for knotweed to be used to treat Lyme Disease. Its medicinal powers come from resveratrol within the plant, which has been found to have anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory benefits that can protect the nervous system and heart. That’s why knotweed is also effective in treating cardio-vascular disease, inflammation and indigestion.

Which just goes to show, even villains have a good side if you know where to look!

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