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Boneset, - it doesn't set bones, but it does break fevers

 
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Boneset, - it doesn't set bones, but it does break fevers
https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/05/boneset-it-doesnt-set-bones-but-it-does.html


Boneset is an herb that is probably familiar to most herbalists, but one that is often misunderstood.  Simply put, it is a strongly bitter herb that is particularly good at reducing fevers.  Boneset has other properties that we will explore in depth.  But, it does not do what many believe the name implies - it does not heal broken bones.  The name, Boneset, comes from an old term for high fevers, so called “break bone” fevers.  Such fevers are experienced by most at some point during a particularly nasty infection; they are the fevers that make the body ache so intensely that it seems as if they could break the bones.


Boneset is Eupatorium perfoliatum.  Other names are “ague weed”, “feverwort” and “sweating plant”.  Ague is an old term for fever, and all of these terms refer to Boneset’s ability to break a fever.  This property is called febrifuge.  Febrifuge herbs help resolve or break fevers, usually both by raising the body temperature slightly and inducing sweating.   Raising a fever may seem counterintuitive in this age of “take two Tylenol” to reduce fever.  But, fever is the body’s way of fighting infection.  “Breaking a fever”, or helping bring a fever to its peak, often aids immunity.  Once the fever “breaks”, the person sweats, removing toxins and cooling the body.  THis is usually followed by deep sleep during which the liver cleanses the blood and the body heals itself.  Many herbs and home remedies are used to break a fever, from hot yarrow tea, to hot baths with ginger, old fashioned “mustard plasters”, coating the chest with goose fat and brown pepper, or even just drinking a hot beverage and going to bed under heavy blankets.   Sleeping under blankets seems especially effective with the windows open, as the cold, fresh air also aids immunity and helps keep the head cooler and more comfortable as the body warms.


Boneset is an important and useful herb that is commonly found around ponds and streams.  It is said to have been widely used by Native American tribes at least in the eastern half of North America, but was likely far more widespread. Other members of the Eupatoriums have been used traditionally in European herbalism, especially the Agrimonies.  Dioscorides wrote:


Eupatorium is an herb like a shrub placing out one stem — thin, woody, straight, black and rough — half a metre long or rather more, and the leaves jagged (at distances) most commonly into five parts (or rather more, similar to those of quinquefolium or even cannabis), and those inclining to black, cut-in on the edges like a saw. The seed grows all around from the middle of the stalk, somewhat rough, bending downward so that dried it sticks to clothes. The leaves of this (pounded fine and applied with old swines’ grease) heal difficult scars on ulcers. The seed and herb (taken as a drink with wine) help dysentery and serpent bites. Some were deceived and called this artemisia, for it is diverse (as we have shown). It is also called hepatorium, or hepatitis, while the Romans call it volucrum maius.


The Herbal Encyclopedia states (www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/boneset/):


The Latin name, Eupatorium, is derived from Eupator, a 1st century BCE king of Pontus, famed for his herbal skills. According to Pliny, Eupator was the first to use a plant of this genus for liver complaints….


Boneset attained popularity about 1800 when a particularly virulent flu swept the East Coast and was characterized by intense bone pain. A specific reference to this was made by an early 19th century physician (C.J.Hemple) who noted that the herb "so singally relieved the disease…that it was familiarly called bone-set".


Boneset was used by many tribes of North America for a wide variety of ailments, including colds, sore throat, fever, flu, chills, menstrual irregularity, epilepsy, gonorrhea, kidney trouble, rheumatism, and to induce vomiting. The Mesquakies used the root to cure snakebites. One of their doctors, named McIntosh, used a leaf and flower tea to expel worms. The Iroquois, Mohegan, Menominee, Delaware, and Cherokee have all used boneset to treat colds and fever. The Alabama relieved stomachache with boneset tea. It was also used by several tribes, including the Cherokee, as a laxative.


Boneset was named in all early American books on medicinal plants, including Hand's House Surgeon and Physician (1820). During the 19th century, very few houses did not have the herb hung from rafters for use at the first onset of chills and fever.


Boneset was used particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, not only by Native Americans and pioneers, but also Civil War troops. Before the coming of aspirin, boneset was one of the remedies to treat the aches and fevers that accompanied various ailments.


Boneset though, was unknown during the classic age of German and British herbalism.  By Mrs. Grieves time, it was still not in the British Pharmacopoeia.  She gives the following description in A Modern Herbal:



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.


Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, febrifuge and laxative. It acts slowly and persistently, and its greatest power is manifested upon the stomach, liver, bowels and uterus.


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.



The herbalist, Michael Moore recommended Boneset for any viral inflammation with fever in the bones and muscles. He also recommended it as a diaphoretic for people who are moist/humid. And, said it was best for quick onset viruses, good for painful urination and a mucus membrane tonic. From  SPECIFIC INDICATIONS FOR HERBS IN GENERAL USE, Third edition by  Michael Moore:


EUPATORIUM PERFOLIATUM

Head cold, moist with fever, aches. Acute hot dry bronchitis with muscular weakness. Influenza with malaise and aches. Acute bronchial pneumonia with dyspnea. To stimulate innate immunity.



Plants for A Future refers to Boneset as Thoroughwort:


Latin name: Eupatorium perfoliatum

Family: Compositae


Medicinal use of Thoroughwort: Thoroughwort is one of the most popular domestic medicines in North America where it is used in the treatment of influenza, colds, acute bronchitis, catarrh and skin diseases. It has been shown to stimulate resistance to viral and bacterial infections, and reduces fevers by encouraging sweating. The plant, however, should be used with some caution since large doses are laxative and emetic and the plant might contain potentially liver-harming pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The leaves and flowering stems are antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emetic, febrifuge, laxative, purgative, stimulant, vasodilator. A hot infusion of the dried leaves and flowers is used as a very effective treatment to bring relief to symptoms of the common cold and other similar feverishness - it loosens phlegm and promotes its removal through coughing. This herb is practically unequalled in its effectiveness against colds. It is also used in the treatment of rheumatic illness, skin conditions and worms. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer before the buds open, and are dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant, harvested when it first comes into flower. It is used in the treatment of illnesses such as flu and fever.


The National Center for Homeopathy provided uses for Boneset too numerous to list in this article: www.homeopathycenter.org/medicine_finder/eupatorium-perfoliatum/


Whether you wildcraft (gather herbs in the wild), or prefer to grow your herbs in the garden, Boneset is a good herb to add to your list.  It is “weedy”, easy to cultivate and a very useful herb to include in your herbal first aid kit.  Acetaminophen is either the leading, or second leading cause of liver failure in most countries.  The old advice of “take two Tylenol” should be firmly rejected… in my opinion, any doctor that gives that advice should be immediately fired by the patient.  There are safer alternatives to acetaminophen in any drug store, but I believe the best cures grow all around us.



Author: Judson Carroll.  Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His weekly articles may be read at http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/

His weekly podcast may be heard at: Southern Appalachian Herbs (spreaker.com)

He offers free, weekly herb classes: Herbal Medicine 101 (rumble.com)


Judson is the co-author of an important new book based on the 1937 edition of Herbs and Weeds by Fr. Johannes Künzle. This new translation, entitled The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle, with commentary by modern herbalists explores and expands on the work of one of the most important herbalists of the 20th century.  Click here to read more about The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle: Southern Appalachian Herbs: Announcing a New Book, The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle


To buy The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle, click here: https://py.pl/V0HDe



Disclaimer




The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
 
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I have been unable to force common boneset to live on my acre. Late Flowering Boneset, however, decided to show up on its own. It is perennial, as is the Common variety. In my region, it grows everywhere. It is shorter in my drier places, but it is still plentiful. I often see it in the roadside ditches as well, where it grows to 5 feet tall. I cannot find my reference right now, but I did read that it has similar properties to the Common Boneset you have highlighted.  I have used dried Late Flowering Boneset combined with dried Goldenrod for any cold or flu-like symptoms in my family with success.

If using the dried flowers in my teas, it tastes very very bitter. If I exclude the flowers the taste is soooo much better and does not require honey. That is, for my family's palate. We are not sensitive to bitterness in our diet. But how much medicine is lost for not including the flowers? Thoughts?

From Nadia's Backyard
 
Judson Carroll
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:I have been unable to force common boneset to live on my acre. Late Flowering Boneset, however, decided to show up on its own. It is perennial, as is the Common variety. In my region, it grows everywhere. It is shorter in my drier places, but it is still plentiful. I often see it in the roadside ditches as well, where it grows to 5 feet tall. I cannot find my reference right now, but I did read that it has similar properties to the Common Boneset you have highlighted.  I have used dried Late Flowering Boneset combined with dried Goldenrod for any cold or flu-like symptoms in my family with success.

If using the dried flowers in my teas, it tastes very very bitter. If I exclude the flowers the taste is soooo much better and does not require honey. That is, for my family's palate. We are not sensitive to bitterness in our diet. But how much medicine is lost for not including the flowers? Thoughts?

From Nadia's Backyard



In the Southwestern School of Botanical Medicine, Michael Moore said to tincture the whole, fresh plant.  others say to use the leaves and flowering stems.  So, I think you are fine just using the leaves.  
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Thank you Judson.

By the way, I am fully enjoying all of your posts on herbals. Thanks for sharing them with us.
 
Judson Carroll
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Thank you Judson.

By the way, I am fully enjoying all of your posts on herbals. Thanks for sharing them with us.



Thanks!  It is my pleasure.  I enjoy writing them and it helps me continue to research and learn more.  I got into a habit for a few years of just trusting my memory on individual herbs, and rarely consulting the books on my shelf.  This way is much better to both retain and learn new info.  I have to credit my friend, Matt Powers with getting me motivated to do this.  He is constantly learning more about Permaculture, Soil Science, fungi, etc, etc, then he writes and teaches about what he has learned.  Now, he has taught thousands of folks who probably would not have found and understood all that info without his work.  He calls it "iterative learning", from the Latin meaning to repeat. He also gave me a great example of how to leave the ideological stuff out to reach and teach the largest possible audience.  As Paul would say, not being "mad at the bad guys", just doing what is right.
 
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