Lamium album / Witte dovenetel

Lamium album Lamium album

Family: Lamiaceae

Common names:

Part(s) used:


Lamium album is a perennial plant that grows up to 50-60cm(9, 11). It grows in many areas such as fields and waste grounds (9), at the side of the road, along fences, at the outskirts of woods and amongst bushes (10), along banks and hedgerows (6). In fact, one traditional text states that 'They grow almost everywhere (unless it be in the middle of the street)...' (4: p.15). The plant is native to Europe (5, 6, 9, 10, 11), and Asia (5, 6, 9, 11). It is widespread in England (3, 6) and also grows in North Africa (5) and North America (6, 11). The leaves are described as oval (9), or heart-shaped (2, 11), reticulate and veined (3) and occurring in opposite formation (3, 11). Leaves occur in pairs on the stems, each pair at right angles to those above and below it (2). Most descriptions refer to the serrated edge on the leaves (2, 3, 9, 11). The stems are square (2, 3, 4, 6, 9) and flowers are white with two lips (3, 9, 11) and arranged in whorls of six to twelve flowers (2, 6). The flowers have two pairs of stamens (2, 3) one of which is long and the other shorter (3).

The plants bloom in early spring, flowering through the summer (2, 3, 4). The flowers hold a good supply of honey, and therefore attract many bees (2). In general it is similar to the unrelated species, Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) in appearance (2, 6, 10, 11), however several differences are noted by various authors: First, Lamium album can often be mistaken for Urtica dioica until it is flowering, when the obvious difference in the flowers can then be seen (2). Secondly, The stem is different from Urtica dioica as it is square and hollow (2, 6). Thirdly, Lamium album has its common name of 'white dead nettle' as the leaves resemble those of the stinging nettle however without the stinging hairs (10): thus it is called "dead" because it cannot sting (2, 9). Even so, its similarity to the stinging nettle offers it protection (Lord Avebury in 2) and the two plants often grow near each other (2). Lamium album, when bruised has a strong, unpleasant smell (2).


The word Lamium comes from the Greek word laimos meaning throat, due to the shape of the flower (2). The plant is also known as 'archangel' or 'white archangel', as its first flowers appear around the date of May 8th, the day for honouring the Archangel Michael (2). In older herbal texts, such as John Gerard's 'The Herball' from 1597, the herb has a reputation as a mood and vitality enhancer: '…to make the heart merry, to make a good colour in the face, and to refresh the vital spirits' (cited in 9: p.225). Similarly, Nicholas Culpeper writes that it '… makes the head merry, drives away melancholy, quickens the spirits…' (4: p.16). Thus, historically, it brings merriment to both heart and head (4, Gerard in 9). In humoral terms Lamium album is classified by Culpeper as hot and dry, and he astrologically classes it as a herb of Venus, being therefore primarily used by women (4).

Major Active Constituents

Lamium album contains:

As stated, the plant contains tannins; it also contains other constituents that render it similar to the herb Capsella bursa-pastoris, that is, histamine, choline and tyramine, which probably explain the anti-haemorrhagic action of both plants and their similarity in this context (13). Other authors also refer to the biogenic amine content (6, Kwasniewski in 10, 12), namely histamine, tyramine, methylamine (Kwasniewski in 10) and choline (6). The flavonols may also contribute to the plant's haemostatic action (13).



Traditional and Modern


Even though Lamium album has been widely used both traditionally and currently, there is very little information on its efficacy (10). In the Commission E Monographs a distinction is made between the flowers of Lamium album (classified as an approved herb) and the herb (unapproved)(8). For the herb classification, it states that pharmacological properties, pharmacokinetics and toxicology are not known and lists data on its clinical applications (8). This includes use for gastro-intestinal ailments such as mucosa irritation, wind and fullness (8). It further lists clinical applications of the herb in combination with other herbs for many and varied uses (8), yet it is beyond the scope of this monograph to list them all.

Another source states under the heading of pharmacological effects that 'experiments have shown anti-inflammatory, weak diuretic and anti-microbial activity which could be attributed to the iridoids, tannins and triterpene saponins' (11: p.187). However, it provides no further information on these experiments, such as whether they are in vitro, in vivo or human studies, or the nature of the experiments, leaving one questioning the validity of such a statement. No further studies have been located, and further studies are required for the inclusion of valid pharmacological information in this monograph.

Clinical Outcome Studies

Even though its use is ongoing and popular, there is little research into the efficacy and active constituents of Lamium album (13). There is, however, evidence from the continued successful clinical use of the plant (13). There have been no gynaecological trials, yet there is continued demand and usage of the herb, particularly by women (10). It is hypothesised that the tannins in Lamium album are responsible for the positive effects of douching with a preparation of the herb, and that a saponin gives the beneficial effects from the tea, however further studies need to be undertaken to support these theories (10).


• Menstrual irregularities and complaints (8, 11):




Contra-indications and Cautions

For the flowers of Lamium album there are no known contra-indications, side effects or interactions with other drugs, and for the herb, there are no known risks (8).

One author states that Lamium album or any other haemostatic herb should not be used for haemorrhage until the possibility of cancer/ malignancy has been excluded (10). Only when certainty prevails that the condition is benign should one treat with such herbs (10); otherwise, the plant is safe (10).


Use as tea for internal use; decoction for douche/wash. For young women, especially virgins, give tea internally and prepare a wash to use externally on genitals. Use a small handful of the fresh flowers to one cup of boiling water and infuse. The herb can be used in combination with Achillea millefolium in equal parts for this purpose (10).

For the flowers, 'unless otherwise prescribed:


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8. Blumenthal M (ed). 1998. The German Commission E Monographs. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council. pp. 228-229 (flowers); p. 382 (herb).

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Wetenschappelijk onderzoek

J Nat Prod. 2009 Dec;72(12):2158-62. Lamiridosins, hepatitis C virus entry inhibitors from Lamium album. Zhang H1, Rothwangl K, Mesecar AD, Sabahi A, Rong L, Fong HH.

Phytochemical study of the aqueous extract of the flowering tops of Lamium album led to identification of the antiviral iridoid isomers lamiridosins A and B (1, 2). These compounds were found to significantly inhibit hepatitis C virus entry (IC(50) 2.31 muM) in vitro. Studies of 14 iridoid analogues showed that, while the parent iridoid glucosides demonstrated no anti-HCV entry activity, the aglycones of shanzhiside methyl ester (4), loganin (5), loganic acid (6), geniposide (10), verbenalin (12), eurostoside (15), and picroside II (17) exhibited significant anti-HCV entry and anti-infectivity activities.

Antimicrobial Activity of Extracts from In Vivo and In Vitro Propagated Lamium Album L. Plants. Valentina Aleksandrova Chipeva,corresponding author1 Detelina Christova Petrova,2 Milena Evgenieva Geneva,2 Milena Angelova Dimitrova,2 

The antimicrobial activity of 18 different extracts from in vivo and in vitro grown L. album L. plants was evaluated against clinical bacteria and yeasts using the well diffusion method. All the used extracts demonstrated antibacterial activity, whereas only the water extracts from leaves (in vivo) possessed antifungal activity against Candida albicans NBIMCC 72 and Candida glabrata NBIMCC 8673 (14 and 20 mm diameter of inhibition zones and MIC 10 mg/ml, respectively). The methanol and ethanol extracts obtained from the in vitro propagated plants had a broader spectrum of antibacterial activity than those from in vivo plants, while the opposite tendency was observed for the chloroform extracts. All tested flower extracts possessed antimicrobial activity. The chloroform extract from in vivo flowers demonstrated the highest activity against E. faecalis NBIMCC 3915, S. aureus NBIMCC 3703, P. hauseri NBIMCC 1339 and P. aeruginosa NBIMCC 3700 (22 mm, 13 mm, 11 mm, 23 mm zone diameter of inhibition and MIC 0.313 mg/ml, respectively). The water extracts from leaves (both in vivo and in vitro) possessed higher antibacterial activity than extract from flowers. The obtained results showed that both in vivo and in vitro propagated L. album L. could be used as a source of antibacterial substances.

Genus Lamium includes almost 40 species distributed throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, some of which are well-known: Lamium album L. (white dead-nettle), L. purpureum L. (purple dead-nettle), and L. maculatum L. (spotted dead-nettle) (Yalçin and Kaya, 2006). Some Lamium plants have been used in traditional medicine for treatment of disorders, such as trauma, fracture, paralysis, hypertension, menorrhagia, and uterine hemorrhage (Bisset, 1994; Weiss, 1988). In particular, L. album is considered as the most popular species that contains a variety of compounds: phenols, iridoids, triterpens, saponines, fatty acids, phytoecdysteroids, essential oils, tannins, amines (Chudnicka and Matysik, 2005; Alipieva et al., 2007; Paduch et al., 2006). Valyova et al. (2011) showed that L. album could be a source of natural antioxidants with potential use in food supplements.

References Lamium species

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