Fireweed: Grandmothers already know the benefits

Anecdotal evidence is powerful. And attentive grandmothers have heard many many anecdotes.
They’re data mines for home nutrition and wellness, among other topics. A bonus is that they don’t (generally) speak in complicated terms. They’re understandable.
Grandmothers from the former USSR know about fireweed. They collected fireweed in the USSR and elsewhere for its many health benefits.
Brewing fermented fireweed leaves makes a traditional herbal remedy. Today it still called by its historical name, Ivan Chai.
Ask grandma what are the health benefits of Ivan Chai are and you’ll get simple answers.


It has been well studied in academia to determine that fireweed is a powerful anti-inflammatory [9,7,1,4].
There's proof that fireweed is more effective than cortisone in suppressing inflammation [6].
This makes it an effective herbal remedy for many health issues with your guy, immune system, or a foggy mind.
If grandma was very attentive, she may have noticed.

Digestive System

Grandmothers will tell you that Ivan Chai heals your digestive system. Ulcers, gastritis, and colitis can are all remedied by drinking Ivan Chai [6,4]. It helps prevent inflammation of the stomach lining, small intestine, and larger intestine.
It stabilises digestive imbalances for those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Or for those undergoing changes in their diet.
The Woodlands Cree grandmothers also learned about fireweed as herbal remedy. They knew that drinking a decoction from the fireweed plant eliminated intestinal parasites [6].
Your grandma would say it soothed your tummy.

Sleep, Excitability, and Anxiety 

Ivan Chai is caffeine free. It helps you get to sleep and overcome sleep disorders. It’s a known mild sedative in folk medicine [10,9].
Neither scientists nor grandmothers know exactly how it aids in sleep disorders [4,9]. If grandma had insomnia though, she would know how to remedy it.
Ivan Chai calms you down. That’s why Russians tell me they drank it when they were kids (again, my small collection of anecdotes).
Grandmas also knew that it was naturally sweet, so it wouldn’t take much convincing for children to drink it.


Its antimicrobial properties have been well studied. Compounds in fireweed inhibit yeasts, bacteria, and fungi over a broad spectrum of species [1,2]. Its anti-fungal properties help against candida (yeast) overgrowth in the digestive system.
Every one can reason this: a healthy digestive system means better absorption. Better absorption of nutrients leads to a strengthened immune system.

Enlarged Prostate and Urogenital Health 

Your grandma may never have said the word “urogential”, but she knew a thing or two about prostate health.
Renowned European herbalist Maria Trebens used fireweed for the prostate [10].
Thousands of anecdotal reports found it an effective herbal remedy for prostatitis. That's swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland.
It's also an effective remedy for an enlarged prostate. That's growth of the prostate growth (scientifically known as BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia).
Scientists identified Oenothein B as the polyphenol taking effect on the prostate [8].
Wise old grandmother Trebens further recommended fireweed for other issues. Issues include UTIs, cystitis, kidney and bladder problems — and not only for men [10].
So that’s how grandma kept grandpa healthy.

Antioxidant and Antitumor activity 

Grandma might have never said the words “tumor” and “antioxidant”. Even less so, the word “polyphenol”.
Fireweed is full of polyphenols, a group of organic chemicals. This group of chemicals accounts for the antioxidant activity [8,5].
Oenothein B, another polyphenol, has an antitumor activity [8,3]. It’s antitumor effect has been well studied for prostate cells [8].
May grandmothers’ natural health wisdom live on.

Works Cited 

[1] Battinelli, Lucia, et al. “Antimicrobial Activity of Epilobium Spp. Extracts.” Il Farmaco, vol. 67, no. 6–8, 2001, pp. 356–359., doi:10.1017/s0015–928x(01)01058–3.
[2] Borchardt, Joy R., et al. “Antimicrobial Activity of Native and Naturalized Plants of Minnesota and Wisconsin.” African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Academic Journals, 31 May 2009,
[3] Miyamoto, K, et al. “Antitumor Activity of Oenothein B, a Unique Macrocyclic Ellagitannin.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 110103,
[4] Olga, Kolesova, and Vladimir Poilov. “[PDF] Investigation of the Immunological Effect of Fermented Epilobium Angustifolium Extracts at the Cell Level. | Scinapse | Academic Search Engine for Paper.” Scinapse, Scinapse, 1 Jan. 2017,
[5] Ostrovska, Halyna, et al. “Epilobium Angustifolium L.: A Medicinal Plant with Therapeutic Properties.” The EuroBiotech Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, 2018, pp. 127–131., doi:10.251100/issn2675–716x/2018/02.03.
[6] Rogers, Robert. “Fireweed — a Treasured Medicine of the Boreal Forest.” Discovery Phytomedicine, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, p. 10., doi:10.16672/phytomedicine.2015.17.
[7] Sayik, Aysema, et al. “DNA- Binding, Biological Activities and Chemical Composition of Wild Growing Epilobium Angustifolium L. Extracts from Canakkale, Turkey.” Journal of the Turkish Chemical Society, Section A: Chemistry, 2018, pp. 911–950., doi:10.196107/jotcsa.31108910.
[8] Schepetkin, Igor A., et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Polyphenols from Epilobium Angustifolium (Fireweed).” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 25 May 2017,
[9] Serebryanaya, F. K., and I. I. Posevin. “Morphological and Anatomical Investigations of Chamenerion Angustifolium (L.) Scop .) Growing in the Northern Caucasus Region.” Pharmacy & Pharmacology, vol. 5, no. 2(16), 2017, pp. 810–98., doi:10.110173/2308–10277–2017–5–2(16)-810–98.
[10] Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: a Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books, 20010.