Get Acquainted with VeronicaThere are descriptive details for the Speedwell provided on line—its structure, growth habits, even its eradication—but little is spoken of its proven usefulness or its chemistry. Legend (if you will) has it that the little blue-and-white flower is helpful in treating a plethora of ailments, but especially in relaxing tense muscles in the neck and shoulder area and in treating skin rashes.
Rich in GlycosidesIts chemistry has been discussed briefly in the form of its glycoside content. A glycoside is a compound in which a molecule of sugar is bonded to another organic molecule through loss of a specific hydroxyl group. To get a grasp on what a glycoside is, consider salicin. Its sugar portion is D-glucose. The other part is salicylic acid. Salicin is important in the history of aspirin. Glycosides are employed by an organism as a means of storage. The glycoside’s sugar is removed, the other part becomes available. Glycosides also aid in an organism’s waste removal, rather like placing the stuff in a garbage bag before disposal.
Speedwell Phenylethanoid and Iridoid GlycosidesA number of phenylethanoid and iridoid glycosides are found in Veronica persica. These are discussed in Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2002 Jun;50(6):869-71 (see the NCBI reference below). What are these categories of glycoside? Phenylethanoid glycosides are rich sources of medicinal therapeutics. They are composites of glucopyranose sugars and the other molecular portion containing some a modified hydroxyphenyl ethyl unit. Iridoid glycosides are usually glucose sugar attached to some form of terpenoid derivative of oxogeranial. Notice a similarity to the word geranium. These glycosides are noted to impart a bitter taste.
PersicosideA new glycoside was found in Veronica persica, a namesake persicoside. What fascinating uses will be discovered for this rather complex molecule remains to be seen. Almost certainly it will find a niche in some laboratory or other, drawing appropriate attention to the little blue lawn weed, Birdseye Speedwell.
In a BirdseyeIt should be clear to the reader that nothing in nature, even weeds, should be considered unworthy of study. New discoveries in the field of medicine are but one possible positive outcome that can reward the thorough researcher. Yes, even the researcher who considers Veronica persica, the Bird’s Eye Speedwell.
Note: You might also enjoy Are Leaves Alive?
- NCBI PubMed: Phenylethanoid and iridoid glycosides from Veronica persica
- Julia’s Edible Weeds: Speedwell—pretty blue flowers
- NCBI PubMed: Naturally occurring phenylethanoid glycosides: potential leads for new therapeutics