Herb Library

Back to Herb Menu     Back to Index

DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Bitter Ash, Bonnet-de-pretre (Fr), Burning bush, Dogwood, Fusain (Fr), Fusanum, Fusoria, Gadrose, Gatten, Gatter,
Indian Arrowood, Pigwood, Pegwood, Prickwood, Skewerwood, Spindelbaume (Ger), Spindle tree, Wahoo

(Euonymous atropurpurea)
No Image Available
Also: (E. europaeus) and (E. americanus)

ALL PARTS, especially the fruits and seeds, are POISONOUS.
This herb is NOT recommended for home use.
Leaves and fruit can cause various symptoms of poisoning

CONTAINS: Bitter principle, a resin (euonymin), euonic acid, a crystalline glucoside, asparagin, resins, fat, dulcitol, culvitol and 14% ash, plus some resins.

An attractive perennial to about 6 feet or taller with smooth ash-brown bark and small dark purplish flowers and purple tinged leaves with serrated edges native to the eastern United States. Ornamental varieties are also available for landscaping with green and variegated varieties common in England.
Euonymus is associated with Euonyme, mother of the Furies, due to the plant's irritating properties. It was employed by Native Americans for a number of ailments. It was a popular diuretic drug during the 19th century. Early in this century it was discovered to have digitalis-like effects. The wood of E. europus was used to make ox-goads and another of its names - Prickwood - was derived from its use as toothpicks. It was used by the Dutch to make spindles and by others to make bird cages and pipe-stems. An artist's charcoal was made from the young stems and it was also employed in the making of gunpowder.

PROPAGATION: Ripe seed should be sown in fall (requires stratification and is viable for 2 years); by semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. It is easily propagated by inserting the tips of branches about 3 inches in length into sandy soil in autumn or late summer and keeping them damp.
NEEDS: Well-drained soil in sun or part shade. Thin out shoots in late winter to maintain shape. Common pests are aphids, scale insects, and spider mites.
HARVEST: The root and stem barks are usually harvested from wild stock in the autumn and dried. The root bark is dried in quilled pieces 1/12th to 1/6th inch thick. There is a very faint licorice-type odor.
SOLVENT: Water and alcohol.
Euonymous europaeus No Image Available: Known commonly as Lousewood and deriving that name from the practice of baking, powdering and sprinkling the fruits on the heads of children with lice. The berries are emetic and purgative and have proved fatal to sheep.
The American variety E. atropurpurea is the medicinal variety, but in folk medicine E. europus has been used as well. Three or 4 berries were taken as a purgative.
Also, a decoction made with the addition of vinegar was used for mange in horses and cattle.

Euonymous americanus image image: Was used in much the same manner as E. atropurpurea. The root tea was used for uterine prolapse, vomiting of blood, stomachaches, painful urination, and a wash for swellings. The tea has also been used for malaria, indigestion, liver congestion, constipation, lung afflictions. The powdered bark applied to the scalp was believed to eliminate dandruff.


Tonic, alterative, cholagogue, hepatic stimulant, diuretic, laxative, acrid, bitter, promotes bile flow, mild aperient, emetic, discutient, anti-syphilitic, cardiac, expectorant, circulatory stimulant.
Primary liver herb. Removes congestion from liver and has been used for jaundice, gall bladder, constipation related to liver and gallbladder problems
Has mainly beem used as a purgative in cases of constipation in which the liver is involved. Also used for liver disorders following or accompanying fever.
Extracts, syrups or tea were used for fevers, upset stomach, dropsy, lung ailments and as a heart medicine.
Used in Ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, purgative and anti-pyretic.
Has been used as a heart medication in the past because of digitalis-like effects.
Was used in cases of dropsy and dyspepsia.
Was used by Native Americans for uterine discomfort and sore eyes.
Stimulates gall bladder and circulatory systems and has been used as a mild cardiac tonic.
Has been used internally for constipation and skin eruptions associated with liver and gall bladder.
Has been combined with barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) and dandelion (Taxacarum officinale) for liver and gall bladder disorders
Small doses of euonymin (derived from the root bark) stimulate appetite and the flow of gastric juices. Large doses are cathartic and irritate the intestines.
Was used by Winnebagos for uterine problems (decoction)
The steeped inner bark of the trunk was used by the Meskwakis as an eye lotion.
The fresh trunk bark has been pounded for a poultice for facial sores.
Was also used for chest and lung congestion, indigestion and fever.
The Mohegans used a tea of the bark for a physic.
One old recipe for constipation is given as: 1 oz. FE Euonymous with 4 oz. of syrup of butternut; 1 tsp taken morning and evening or in the evening only.
For dropsy the recommendation was that it was best combined with milkweed (bitter root) or with some diuretic such as couch grass.
A recipe for a hepatic stimulant was: 4 parts ginger syrup to 1 pint of F1.X Wahoo; 1 tsp given 2-3 times daily.
Was also used for venereal diseases, skin ailments, as an emetic and as a remedy for dandruff and scalp problems.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
DECOCTION = (1 oz. herb to 1 pint water, boiled together slowly); small wineglassfuls given cold 2 or 3 times daily. A weaker dose is actually recommended...1 small tsp to 1 pint of boiling water simmered 30 minutes and taken 2-3 C. per day 1 hour before meals for digestive difficulties related to liver function.
TINCTURE = 5-10 drops in water or on sugar (or..1-2 ml 3 times daily)
EUONYMIN = 1-4 grains
IN FORMULAS = 3-9 grains.

Used for albuminuria, bilious fever, viliousness, cholera morbus, gallstones, liver and vertigo.

The ripe berries and seeds produce an unsteady dye of yellow and a green color with an alum mordant.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH