Common Name: boneset
Botanical Name: Eupatorium perfoliatum
Native Range: Southeastern United States
A description of boneset in A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve, 1931:
Boneset was a favourite medicine of the North American Indians, who called it by a name that is equivalent to ‘Ague-weed,’ and it has always been a popular remedy in the United States, probably no plant in American domestic practice having more extensive and frequent use; it is also in use to some extent in regular practice, being official in the United States Pharmacopceia, though it is not included in the British Pharmacopoeia.
All parts of the plant are active, but the herb only is official, the leaves and tops being gathered after flowering has commenced. They contain a volatile oil, some tannic acid, and Eupatorin, a bitter glucosidal principle, also resin, gum and sugar. The virtues of the plant are yielded both to water and alcohol.
It is regarded as a mild tonic in moderate doses, and is also diaphoretic, more especially when taken as a warm infusion, in which form it is used in attacks of muscular rheumatism and general cold. In large doses it is emetic and purgative.
Many of the earlier works allude to this species as a diuretic, and therefore of use in dropsy, but this is an error, this property being possessed by Eupatorium purpureum, the purple-flowered Boneset, or Gravel Root.
It has been much esteemed as a popular febrifuge, especially in intermittent fever, and has been employed, though less successfully, in typhoid and yellow fevers. It is largely used by the negroes of the Southern United States as a remedy in all cases of fever, as well as for its tonic effects. As a mild tonic it is useful in dyspepsia and general debility, and particularly serviceable in the indigestion of old people. The infusion of 1 oz. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken in wineglassful doses, hot or cold: for colds and to produce perspiration, it is given hot; as a tonic, cold.
As a remedy in catarrh, more especially in influenza, it has been extensively used and with the best effects, given in doses of a wineglassful, warm every half hour, the patient remaining in bed the whole time; after four or five doses, profuse perspiration is caused and relief is obtained. It is stated that the popular name Boneset is derived from the great value of this remedy in the treatment of a species of influenza which had much prevailed in the United States, and which from the pain attending it was commonly called Break-Bone Fever.
This species of Eupatorium has also been employed in cutaneous diseases, and in the expulsion of tapeworm.
Last updated: 1/3/2020