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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 Agueweed, Boneset, Crosswort, Feverwort, Indian sage, Sweating plant, Thoroughwort, Vegetable Antimony
(Eupatorium perfoliatum)
Also see: Japanese Boneset and Eupatorium fortunei

CAUTION: Large doses are vomitic!
Contains PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOIDS that may cause damage and/or cancer to liver.
Other species of Eupatorium have also been found to contain PA's.
May cause contact dermatitis in susceptible individuals.


CONTAINS: Flavonoids (some anti-tumor activity shown), polysaccharides, essential oil, resin, tannin, saponins, diterpenes, triterpenes, sesquiterpene, lactones (in essential oil), inulin, pyrrolizidine alkaloids: eupafolin, dendroidinic acid, gallic acid, alpha-amyrin, chromenes, sitosterol, eupatorin (glycoside), quercetin, kaempferol, astragalin, 91% water (when fresh), 7% water (when air dried).
Per 100 grams with zero moisture: 6.7% ash, 1400 mg calcium, trace mg chromium, trace mg cobalt, 10% crude fiber, 39% dietary fiber, 1.9% fat, 2 mg iron, 600 mg magnesium, 0.50 mg manganese, 9 mg niacin, 400 mg phosphorus, 1,000 mg potassium, 10% protein, trace mg riboflavin, 0.10 mg selenium, 0.20 mg silicon, trace mg sodium, trace mg thiamine, trace IU vitamin A, trace mg vitamin C, 0.20 mg zinc.

Boneset is common in the eastern marsh areas of North America growing to 3 feet or more with a distinctive double leaf (long, tapering, pointed, dark green and shiny on top surface) that is speared in the center by the hollow, hairy stem which arises from a crooked rootstock; flowers are dense, terminal compound heads of clusters with 10 to 16 tubular florets which are white to bluish purple; fruit are achenes with a full crown of white bristles. Its common name is derived from its use to allay the symptoms of certain types of fevers (ie: flu) which were called "breakbone" fevers. Its scientific name comes from Mithridates Eupator, an ancient king of Pontus, who grew a great variety of herbs in his medicine gardens.

Boneset was used in North American during the 1900's as a standard remedy for coughs, colds, and fevers. It was used to combat the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, as well as an outbreak of "James River Ringworm" in Virginia. Was not typically used as an infusion until the 1900's, when it was included in the snake oil nostrums of that period, however, infusions were not unknown to Native Americans. Contemporary scientists claim boneset is ineffective for any of the conditions to which it was applied. Was listed in the US Dispensatory from 1820 to 1950. Leaves and flowering tops included in the list of Canadian Medicinal Plants.

Ruled astrologically by Venus and Jupiter.

NOTA BENE: Some of the types of fevers treated with Boneset in earlier times went by different names. BREAKBONE FEVER is also known as DENGUE FEVER; INTERMITTANT FEVER as MALARIA; LAKE FEVER as TYPHOID.

PROPAGATION: By seed or division.
NEEDS: Hardy perennial in zones 5 to 9, which will thrive without care in any average soil with full sun and can withstand periods of dryness.
HARVEST: Upper leaves and blooms when in first bloom.
FLOWERS: Nearly white. Blooms late July or August.
PART USED: All parts useful; principally upper leaves and flowers. Dried for infusions; used fresh for extracts.
SOLVENT: Alcohol, water.
HYSSOP-LEAVED BONESET aka Justice Weed (E. hyssopifolium): Was used for snakebite and insect bites; the plant was bruised and applied to the site of the bite as a poultice.
Eupatorium lindleyanum [chèng gan sheng má]: Has been used in Chinese medicine for bronchitis and dysentary, although it is mainly used for problems specific to women and particularly involving childbirth. Also used externally for swellings and wounds, and as a diuretic and vermifuge. The leaves combined with a hair pomade are belived by some to promote hair growth.
Eupatorium chinense: Has been used in Chinese medicine for colds, diptheria, rheumatoid arthritis and general weakness; native to Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, and the Philippines.
Eupatorium stoechadasum: Used the same as E. fortunei


Has been principally used for any fever that causes bone pain, it is bitter, astringent, tonic, antispasmodic, carminative, laxative, expectorant, immuno-stimulant, diaphoretic, antipyretic, relaxes mucous membranes. Affects circulatory (stimulant), structural, respiratory, and urinary systems.
When taken as a cold infusion, has tonic properties and is mildly laxative; has also been used 30 minutes before meals for loss of appetite and indigestion. Taken as a warm infusion, it was used to break up fever from colds and flu. Has been used like quinine for intermittant fever.
Has been used traditionally for prevention and treatment of fevers, chills, typhoid fever, pneumonia, chronic ague, dyspepsia, debility, dropsy, nightsweats, bronchial congestion, acute bronchitis, respiratory allergies, constipation, flu, colds, excess mucous, rheumatism, bruises, broken bones, urinary tract infections, jaundice, and skin diseases.
A thick syrup combining Boneset, Ginger, and Anise was used to treat coughs in children.
Has been combined with Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Elder (Sambucus nigra), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Ginger (Zingeber officinale), and Cayenne (Capsicum) for flu, (also Peppermint). Has also been combined for the same purpose with Comfrey (no longer recommended as safe due to presence of PA's) and Mint, or, with Chickweed and Anise, or with Catnip and Sage.
Was used by Native Americans for aches, pains, rheumatism, and to assist in healing of broken bones as a topical plaster or poultice. They also employed an infusion of the leaves and flowers for indigestion, dyspepesia, catarrh, snakebite, pneumonia, malaria, typhoid, and for female disorders and bladder problems, although doses were limited to spoonfuls or 1/2 cup doses. Larger doses were used as an emetic and cathartic. A weak infusion of 1 tsp herb to 1 quart boiling water was used to treat rheumatism. The Iroquois, Menominee and Mohegan indians used boneset for colds and fevers. The Cree bathed in the steam of a boneset steambath for arthritic and rheumatic pain. The Meskwaki used a tea of the flowers and leaves as a vermifuge. Used by the Seneca as a tonic.
Was used by Confederate troops during the United States Civil War for fevers.
Plantation slaves of North America used it to treat a particular type of pneumonia from which they often suffered.
In the mid 1970's, several species of Eupatorium were being studied for anti-cancer potential.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
DAILY TOTAL of FRESH = 2 to 4 tsp
DAILY TOTAL OF DRIED = 1 to 2 grams
INFUSION = 1 tsp dried herb with 1 cup boiling water; steep 10 minutes; taken 3 times daily, a mouthful at a time or in wineglass full doses. (Taken hot while in bed as a diaphoretic. Also taken hot every 1/2 hour to relieve flu and fever symptoms.) COLD infusion, 1 tsp 3 to 6 times daily.
TINCTURE = 1 to 2 ml (1/5 tsp), 3 times daily
EXTRACT = 1.5 gram dried herb, 7 ml alcohol, 8 ml water, OR 1/2 oz dried boneset, 4 oz 100 proof vodka; allow to set 2 weeks, shaking daily; strain and bottle. Single dose traditionally 10 drops, taken 4 times daily. OLD WAY of making a solid extract was to bruise the leaves, then cover with whisky or other spirits and allow to stand for several days, then left open for the liquid to slowly evaporate; dose 2 to 4 grains.
EMETIC = 1 oz herb to 1 quart water, boiled down to 1 pint.
POWDER (of the leaves and flowering tops) = Purgative in even small doses of 10 to 12 grains.
PILLS = A strong decoction boiled down to a solid extract, then formed into pills; 1 was taken every 3 hours for nightsweats (particulary in Tuberculosis).
SALVE = The powder is mixed in equal portions with petroleum gel or by mixing the powder with enough water to make a paste and applying directly to the external problem.
OLD REMEDY: A popular remedy during the influenza epidemic of 1891 = 1½ oz. each of Boneset and False Boneset, 1 oz. each of Vervain, Culver's root, and Agrimony; 1 oz of combined herbs added to 1 pint of boiling water and infused; 2 to 4 tbsp was taken every 2 to 3 hours as need.

Used to treat herpes of the anus, back pain, bilious fever, dengue, diarrhea, fractures, gout, hiccup, hoarseness, indigestion, flu, intermittant fever, jaundice, liver soreness, measles, cracks of the mouth, opthalmia, rheumatism, ringworm, spotted fevers, syphilis (pain), thirst, wounds.

The Chippewa pulverized the root fibers and combined them with those of milk weed to create a whistle for calling deer.

(Eupatorium japonicum)
[chèng gan cao]

Contains PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOIDS that may cause damage and/or cancer to liver.
Other species of Eupatorium have also been found to contain PA's.


Considered a woman's herb in Oriental medicine. The leaf has been used as an anodyne and nerve sedative during difficult pregnancies and during labor and childbirth Considered carminative, diuretic, and vermifuge. The seeds have been used for the "36 diseases of women". The root has been used to improve circulation and as a restorative after childbirth.

(syn E. japonicum var fortunei)
[pèi lán]
image Image

Contains PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOIDS that may cause damage and/or cancer to liver.
Other species of Eupatorium have also been found to contain PA's.
Excess causes stomach irritation.


CONTAINS: P-cymene, neryl acetate, thyml methyl ether.

Hardy perennial to 5ºF. native to China, Japan, Korea, growing to 5 feet tall with a spread of 1 to 3 feet. Leaves are opposite, divided with toothed margins; flowers white in corymbs appear in late summer. Cultivated in China, Japan, and Indochina.


In Indochina is considered anticephalgic, aphrodisiac, digestive aid and stimulant tonic; whole plant has been used to treat loss of appetite, heat stroke with headache, fever and halitosis.
In Chinese medicine it is considered a cooling and drying herb, acting mainly on stomach and spleen and which has been used for bronchitis and dysentary; also anodyne, diaphoretic, nerve sedative and to improve circulation.
Whole plant has been used to treat indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heat stroke, and feverish summer colds.
Root has sometimes been eaten as a restorative to women after childbirth.
A decoction of the root has been used in Japan for dysmenorrhea and as a poison antidote.
Extracts from above ground portions have been determined to be phytotoxic to Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

The plant is soaked in oil and applied to hair for dandruff.

©2000 & 2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH