BOTANICAL NAME: Eupatorium perfoliatum
COMMON NAME(S): boneset, common boneset, thoroughwort, agueweed, crosswort, ferverwort, Indian sage, sweating plant, vegetable antimony, wood boneset (Breverton, Duke, Grieve).
FAMILY: Asteraceae or Compositae
PARTS USED: All aboveground parts
ENERGETICS AND TASTE: Boneset is bitter (Cech, Grieve, Wood) and astringent (Grieve). Boneset is acrid and aromatic (Wood).
ACTIONS AND PROPERTIES: Boneset is an immune-stimulator, febrifuge, diaphoretic, aperient, laxative, cathartic, emetic, purgative, mucus expectorant, bitter digestive tonic, anti-inflammatory, improver of circulation, stimulant, a mild tonic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, and vasodilator. Boneset is used as a remedy for bone/joint breaks and fractures, colds, flus, fevers, pneumonia, infections (specifically upper respiratory infections), respiratory congestion, acute bronchitis, night sweats, chills, arthritis, aches and pains, swollen joints, stiffness, and rheumatism (Breverton, Brown, Cech, Duke, Fetrow, Grieve, Meuninck, Niering, Hoffmann, PFAF Plant Database). According to one source, Boneset has the strongest action and greatest effect on the stomach, liver, bowels, and uterus. Boneset relaxes mucous membranes (Hoffmann). Boneset may have once been used in skin diseases, to expel tapeworms (Grieve, PFAF Plant Database), and as a sedative (Fetrow). Boneset may have been used for these purposes as a purgative, purging the body of worms and toxins that cause skin problems through catharsis, working as a mild laxative and stimulating gastrointestinal, gallbladder, and liver secretions. One might hypothesize that Boneset is therefore useful for acne, a condition associated with liver stress. Boneset normalizes androgen imbalance, especially on the excess side. This hormone heightens the immune response, stimulates bone growth, stresses the liver (hence producing anger), and often causes acne (Wood). Several sources state that Boneset has diuretic properties (Meuninck, Krochmal), but this is due to confusion with Boneset’s relative Gravel Root or Joe-Pye-Weed botanical name Eupatorium purpureum (Grieve).
CONSTITUENTS: Boneset contains vitamin C (Brown). The leaves and tops, gathered after flowering has commenced, contain a volatile oil, some tannic acid (Grieve), and Eupatorin, a bitter glucosidal principle (Grieve, Hoffmann), also resin, gum and sugar (Grieve). Boneset contains gallic acid (Hoffman). Boneset contains sesquiterpene lactones (including eupafolin) and polysccharides, both of which are significantly immunostimulating. Boneset contains flavonoids, diterpenes, and sterols (Chevalier). Boneset may contain potentially toxic, liver-damaging PAs (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) (Duke, Meuninck, Fetrow).
DESCRIPTION: Common Boneset is a native perennial wildflower that grows from 2-4 feet (up to 5 feet) tall (Duke, USDA Plant Database, Meuninck). The leaves grow up to 8 inches long and 2 inches across. The flower clusters appear in late summer or early fall; Boneset flowers from July through October (Duke, USDA Plant Database) or July through September (Grieve, PFAF Plant Database). The florets produce wind-dispersed small dry seed with hair-like bristles. The fibrous root system frequently produces rhizomes (subterranean horizontal stems with shoots above and roots below), which create small colonies (USDA Plant Database). The large leaves taper to a sharp point, the edges finely toothed, the veins prominent, the blades rough above, downy and resinous and dotted beneath (Grieve). Boneset’s leaves are wrinkled and perfoliate; perfoliate means that the bases of the leaves grow together around the stem. Uppermost leaves may not be perfoliate. Boneset is easily distinguished at any stage of growth by its lower perfoliate leaves (stem appears to pass through the joined opposite leaves), which resemble an elongated diamond shape. Flowers white to pale purple, in flat clusters (Duke, Breverton). Heavy stems are lightly hairy (Krochmal, Grieve).
HABITAT: Boneset is found in moist ground and thickets (Duke). Boneset is found in wetlands, open wet prairies, and marshes (Meuninck). Boneset is found in low woods and wet meadows (Niering). Common Boneset prefers moist or wet conditions, soil with a significant amount of organic matter, and full to partial sun (USDA Plant Database). Boneset is found in swamps, low ground, damp areas, pastures, and woods with riverbed or flood plain or estuary type soil: a fertile mixture of silt, mud, and sand (Krochmal). Boneset is found in wet woods, scrub, fens, damp grassland, and even sandy soils in Texas; the plant grows in sandy, loamy, or clay soil. The plant grows in acid, basic, and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland), or no shade. Boneset is found in woodland, garden, dappled shade, and shady edge habitats. Boneset prefers well-drained soil and requires moist soil (PFAF Plant Database).
Location: See Habitat
Propagation: Seeds ripen about a month after flowering and should be collected when the heads dry and split, and the fluffy seed begins to float away. If collected earlier, dry the seed heads for 1-2 weeks in open paper bags. If seeds are sown directly, sow in the fall and sow thickly as germination rates are typically low. For container production, a cold-moist pretreatment at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 weeks to 3 months will increase germination percentages. After pretreatment, sow seeds in a fine germination mix containing milled spaghnum moss. Transplant to potting mix after seeds have germinated. Seed germinate at 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit and in the presence of light. Use a greenhouse with alternating temperatures (day temperatures 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit, night temperatures 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit). Seeds will last up to 3 years if stored in a cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry (30% relative humidity) environment. Common Boneset can be propagated by division or two-node softwood tip cuttings taken in late spring. Divide the plants in the fall as they go dormant or in the spring just as shoots first appear (USDA Plant Database). Sow seed in spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Pick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Divide in spring or autumn. This is very easy, as the clumps can be replanted directly into their permanent positions. Boneset succeeds in ordinary well-drained but moisture retentive garden soil in sun or part shade. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25 degrees centigrade or -13 degrees Fahrenheit (PFAF Plant Database). See Habitat for more information on where to plant or transplant.
Pests and Pollinators: Some Eupatorium species have been reported as moderate preference browse plants (Miller). The nectar from the flowers of Common Boneset is very attractive to a variety of pollinators, including bees, wasps, and butterflies. The Swamp Sparrow supplements its diet with Common Boneset seeds. Various caterpillars, such as Phragmatobia lineate (Lined Ruby Tiger Moth), Papaipema cataphracta (Burdock Borer Moth), Schinia trifascia (Three-lined Flower Moth), Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria (Blackberry Looper), Semiothisa continuata (Geometrid Moth sp.) and Haploa clymene (Clymene Moth) eat various portions of the plant. The leaves of Common Boneset are favored by grasshoppers, flea beetles and saw flies, which can leave them looking bedraggled by midsummer. It is not drought-tolerant. Livestock generally find the foliage of Common Boneset too bitter for grazing (USDA Plant Database). In fact, grazing animals have displayed toxicity from eating this plant; symptoms included drooling, nausea, loss of appetite, weakness, thirst, loss of muscular control, paralysis, and death (Meuninck).
Harvesting: Harvest leaves before flowering, late spring to mid-summer (Brown); Boneset flowers from July through October (Duke).
Use the leaf and flowering tops, without the stem harvested during early flowering stage and used fresh or dried (Cech).
The upper unjoined leaves are good for colds, fevers, flu, night sweats, and digestion, whereas the mature joined leaves are great for bone and joint ailments, to induce vomiting, and for laxative properties (Brown).
All parts of the plant are active, but the herb only is official, the leaves and tops being gathered after flowering has commenced (Grieve).
The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer before the buds open, and are dried for later use (PFAF Plant Database).
Storing: Dry the leaves slowly out of direct sunlight, allowing three days for them to become totally dry. Then lightly break up the leaves and store them in loosely woven cotton bags hung from the rafters of a cool, dry place. Never make the bags larger than six to eight ounces. A good way to store the herb tea is in cheesecloth bags that hold about a teaspoonful of herb so that it can be readily mixed in hot water the same way you would use a tea bag; this way the tea is quickly available as a daily tonic against common colds and other winter ailments (Brown).
SOLUBILITY: Boneset is soluble in water and alcohol (Brown, Cech, Grieve).
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE:
The upper unjoined leaves are good for colds, fevers, flu, night sweats, and digestion, whereas the mature joined leaves are great for bone and joint ailments, to induce vomiting, and laxative for properties. Make a mild tea by steeping a palmful of the fresh or dried perfoliated, joined leaves in two cups of hot water for fifteen to thirty minutes is an excellent bone and joint remedy, to be used for breaks, fractures, etc. To heal a broken hand, drink a tea made from the larger joined leaves twice a day for the first week, the second week only one-half cup twice a day. A cold tea made from steeping a small palmful of dried or fresh leaves in one cup of water for twenty to thirty minutes has a mild, laxative effect and makes a good digestive tonic. A warm tea made essentially the same way as the cold tea, but steeped from thirty to thirty-five minutes, is a great remedy for colds, flu, fever, and for controlling night sweats. A strong tea prepared the same way but taken hot can induce vomiting and has strong laxative properties. The cooling properties of the herb that help fight fever and control night sweats are best taken warm. A strong tea made from steeping the dried or green leaves for thirty to forty minutes and mixed with an equal dose of mild mint tea is very effective for breaking up the common cold. As a cold or flu preventative, steep the fresh or dried leaves in cold water for six to twelve hours, and take a cold quarter cup twice a day; the cold steeping retains much of the vitamin C content of the herb—the leaves can be used fresh or dried, the fresh leaves producing the best results, especially when the vitamin C is needed. A mixture of one half cup of Boneset tea and one-half cup of Catnip tea relaxes sore muscles, even strained muscles, and drunk one hour before a massage, increases and heightens the effects of the massage. Drink a cup of Boneset tea a day as a preventative for arthritis and rheumatism (Brown). In large doses it is emetic and purgative whereas in moderate doses Boneset was regarded as a mild tonic and remedy for flu and mucus. Boneset is used to induce sweating, especially when taken as warm infusion for attacks of muscular rheumatism and general cold. As a remedy for flu and mucus, it was extensively used given in doses of warm wine-glass-full every half hour, the patient remaining in bed. After four or five doses, heavy perspiration or sweating occurred and relief was obtained. As a mild tonic Boneset is useful in dyspepsia and general debility, and especially in indigestion of old people. The infusion of one ounce of the dried herb to two cups of boiling water may be taken in wineglassful doses, hot or cold: for colds and to produce sweating, it is given hot; as a tonic, cold (Grieve).
To make a tincture of the fresh herb, use a ratio of 1:2 fresh herb to alcohol mixture; the alcohol mixture should be 75 percent alcohol and 25 percent water. To make a tincture of the dried herb, use a ratio of 1:5 dried herb to alcohol mixture; the alcohol mixture should be 50 percent alcohol and 50 percent water. The general procedures for making fresh herb/root tinctures is to coarsely chop and weigh the fresh herb or root and put it in a blender. Measure and mix the alcohol mixture in a separate jar. Pour the alcohol mixture over the herb and blend thoroughly. Pour the blended slurry into a macerating container. Cover tightly, shake, and set to macerate in a dark place at room temperature. Label with date and herb name. Shake daily for a period of two weeks. At the end of this time, pour the macerating herb into a pressing cloth and express thoroughly by hand or with a tincture press. Collect the crude tincture in a jar, label, and set it on a shelf to settle overnight. The following morning, pour off the clear liquid through a filter and collect the finished tincture in a jar. Store in labeled amber glass bottles, well-stoppered, in a cool room, and out of the sunlight. The general procedure for making dry herb tinctures is to grind the dried herb down to the consistency of coarse cornmeal by using a suitable mill or, if applicable, by crushing the herb and rubbing it through a screen. Measure and mix the alcohol mixture in a separate jar. Weigh the herb and pour it into the macerating container. Slowly pour the alcohol mixture over the ground herb. Cover tightly, shake, and set to macerate in a dark place at room temperature. Label with the current date and herb name. Shake daily for a period of 3 weeks. At the end of this time, pour the macerating herb into a pressing cloth and express thoroughly, either by hand or using a tincture press. Collect the crude tincture in a jar, label, and set it on a shelf to settle overnight. The following morning, pour off the clear liquid through a filter and collect the finished tincture in a jar. Store in labeled amber glass bottles, well-stoppered, in a cool room, and out of the sunlight.
The average dosage for infants is 2 to 5 drops of tincture well-diluted in water, milk, or juice, taken 3 to 5 times daily. The average dosage for children from 4 years to 10 years is 5 to 15 drops well-diluted in water or juice, taken 3 to 5 times daily. The average dosage for children from 4 years to 10 years is 5 to 15 drops well-diluted in water or juice, taken 3 to 5 times daily. The average adult dosage is 30 to 60 drops (1 to 2 standard droppersful) diluted in a little water and taken three to five times daily. Seniors tend to be more sensitive to herbal therapy, so a good starting dosage is 1 droppersful (30 drops) taken 3 to 5 times daily. Small individuals with a high metabolic rate require smaller doses while larger individuals with slow metabolism require larger doses. Boneset can be taken as a basic tea or decoction or cold infusion of the dried herb, pouring water just off the boil over the herb. The normal effective dosage of infusions (teas) and decoctions in general is 2 or 3 cups a day. Teas, infusions, and decoctions are not preserved and must be made anew every day (Cech). Boneset is available commercially as a tea, an extract, and a topical cream. Some experts recommend the following doses: As an extract, 10 to 40 drops (2 to 4 grams of plant material) mixed in a liquid and taken orally. As a tea, 2 to 6 teaspoons of crushed dried leaves and flowering tops steeped in 1 cup to two cups of boiling water (Fetrow). Preparations: powdered herb; dose 12 to 20 grains; fluid extract, 1/16 to 1/8 fluid ounce; Eupatorin, dose 1 to 3 grains (Grieve). Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk as hot as possible. During fevers or the flu it should be drunk every half hour. Tincture: take 2-4 milliliters of the tincture three times a day (Hoffmann).
Boneset contains sesquiterpene lactones (including eupafolin) and polysaccharides, both of which are significantly immunostimulant (Chevalier).
The leaves of Boneset were wrapped with bandages around splints to help set broken bones. The leaves of Boneset have been used to make a tonic, Boneset tea, thought to be effective in treating colds, coughs, and constipation (Niering).
The leaves of Boneset were wrapped with bandages around splints to help set broken bones. The leaves of Boneset have been used to make a tonic, Boneset tea, thought to be effective in treating colds, coughs, and constipation (Niering).
The leaf tea was considered an excellent 19th century remedy to break fevers associated with acute infections. The leaf tea was considered immune stimulating and used to treat colds, influenza or flu, malaria, arthritis, painful joints, pneumonia, and gout and to induce sweating. Whole aerial parts of the plant were applied as a poultice to relieve edema, swellings, and tumors (Meuninck).
The leaves were used to treat “break-bone fever” (dengue fever), characterized by severe aching down to the bones (Duke, USDA Plant Database). Boneset was a common home remedy of 19th century America. Extensively employed by early settlers. Widely used, reportedly with success, during flu epidemics in nineteenth and early twentieth century. Leaf tea once used to induce sweating in fevers, flu, and colds; also used for malaria, rheumatism, muscular pains, spasm, pneumonia, pleurisy, gout, etc. Leaves poulticed onto tumors (Duke).
Native Americans introduced the herb to the colonists, who adopted it to treat malaria and other diseases that cause fever. Boneset became popular during shortages of quinine, the main treatment for malaria at the time, and Boneset is alleged to be able to relieve dengue (“breakbone”) fever. Boneset was included in the United States Pharmacopeia, the legal compendium of drug standards, from 1820 to 1916 and the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950 (Fetrow, Grieve). Boneset has been used to reduce fever for more than 200 years. A product using Boneset is sold as Catarrh Mixture (Fetrow). Boneset was one of the most extensively and frequently used herbs in American domestic practice (Grieve). For more past uses of Boneset, see Ethnobotanical.
PLANT SPIRIT/FLOWER ESSENCE/and/or HOMEOPATHIC INFORMATION: Homeopaths use a micro-dose to treat colds, flu, and other conditions involving fever (Meuninck). Boneset has been included in homeopathic preparations sold in Europe. However, a German study found no difference between aspirin and a homeopathic boneset remedy in relieving discomfort from the common cold (Fetrow). A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant, harvested when it first comes into flower (PFAF Plant Database).
COMBINATIONS: A mixture of one half cup of Boneset tea and one- half cup of Catnip tea relaxes sore muscles, even strained muscles (Brown). The classic anti-flu combination is Boneset, Echinacea, and Wild Indigo (Cech). In the treatment of flu, Boneset may be combined with Yarrow, Elder flowers, Cayenne, or Ginger (Hoffmann).
INDICATIONS (including specific):
Boneset is used as a bone and joint remedy for breaks and fractures (Brown). Boneset, when taken internally, stimulates the process of drawing the pieces of broken bones back together into the right place. Specific muscular and skeletal system indications: crushing pains in the bones, aches in the muscles; broken bones, crushed bones, damage to connective tissue; osteoporosis, osteomalachia, recalcifies bone; multiple sclerosis, rebuilds the myelin sheaths (Wood). Boneset is used as a mild laxative and digestive tonic, as a remedy and preventative for colds, flu, and all kinds of fever, and for controlling night sweats (Brown). In the past Boneset was used to treat dengue (breakbone) fever, and also, though less successfully, malaria fever and typhoid fever (Grieve). In the old days Boneset was used not only for flu but also for the more severe chills of malaria. It was also used for the severe debility and exhaustion that set in after people had suffered a long time with the chills of malaria—the shaking running through the autonomic nervous system would wear out the constitution (Wood). Boneset can be used as an emetic and strong laxative or cathartic or purgative (Brown, Grieve). Boneset is therefore useful for constipation (Hoffmann). Boneset is used to break up the common cold. Too, Boneset works on swollen joints and stiffness, arthritis, and rheumatism. A mixture of one half cup of Boneset tea and one-half cup of Catnip tea relaxes sore muscles, even strained muscles, and drunk one hour before a massage, causes one to feel greater heightened effects of the massage. Drinking Boneset tea prevents colds and flus and improves circulation, especially to the hands and feet. Boneset is also a tonic for keeping colds away, the body moving moving freely, and energy up. Boneset is a preventative for colds, cold feet, and numerous other winter-related aches and pains (Brown). 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. In fact, this herb is practically unequalled in its effectiveness against colds (PFAF Plant Database). Boneset is particularly suited to cases where there are marked chills intermitting with fever, with achiness in the bones (Wood). Boneset stimulates the immune response, and is best used during the secondary phases of colds and flu (i.e. swelling of mucous membranes and yellow phlegm.) Using this herb speeds the resolution of infections and supports rapid return to strength and health after illness. Boneset is part of a classic anti-flu combination with Wild Indigo and Echinacea (Cech). People use Boneset for acute bronchitis, as an expectorant, and for fever, flu, and respiratory congestion (Fetrow). The specific indications are upper respiratory infection—especially if accompanied by aches and pains. This includes: chronic cough, pneumonia, malarial chills and fevers. Boneset is also bitter and gently laxative, thereby improving the appetite and assisting in digestion (Cech). As a mild tonic Boneset is useful in dyspepsia and general debility, and especially in indigestion of old people (Grieve). In cases of digestive debility of the elderly, debility of the excitations and secretions of the gallbladder and digestive tract were particularly developed (Wood). Boneset, a bitter and mild cholagogue (PFAF Plant Database), stimulates deficient secretions from the gastrointestinal tract and liver, also making it mildly laxative; thus it is useful for acne, a condition associated with liver stress. Boneset also gets secretion going in the lungs, when mucus is stuck and not moving out (Wood). The dried and commuted aerial parts of the herb when infused in water are reported to be immuno-stimulating and are taken to fight colds, infections, flu, and other acute infections (Meuninck). German research suggests nonspecific immune-system-stimulating properties, perhaps vindicating historical use in flu epidemics. Plant extract weakly anti-inflammatory (Duke, UDA Plant Database). Boneset has also been used as a diaphoretic (USDA Plant Database, Grieve). In large doses it is emetic and purgative whereas in moderate doses Boneset was regarded as a mild tonic and remedy for flu and mucus. Boneset is used to induce sweating, especially when taken as warm infusion for attacks of muscular rheumatism, and general cold (Grieve), providing symptomatic relief for muscular rheumatism (Hoffmann). Boneset was used for general rheumatic and arthritic illness (PFAF Plant Database). Flu with deep aching is a specific indication (Susun Weed Website). Its diaphoretic properties were extensively utilized as a remedy for flu and mucus. Boneset stimulates resistance to viral and bacterial infections and reduces fever by encouraging sweating. Boneset helps to expel and reduce mucous. Stimulates resistance to viral and bacterial infections and reduces fever by encouraging sweating (Grieve). Boneset is good for flu and fever. Flu; chill returning at regular intervals with crushing, aching pain in the bones. Flu; chills very indistinct; can’t tell if sick or not; beginning of the illness. Boneset is suitable when there are vague fevers and chills, achiness and discomfort, where it is hard to tell whether one is sick or not; it is beneficial for chilly, skinny-types. It’s warming, a tonic, and they feel the influence on their digestion, and their bones and muscles feel stronger, and less achy. Boneset is used for fevers of all types: measles, mumps, scarlet fever, yellow fever, typhoid fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Full pulse, full skin, tendency to perspiration even during the fever (Wood). Boneset may have once been used in skin diseases, to expel tapeworms (Grieve, PFAF Plant Database), and as a sedative (Fetrow). Boneset may have been used for these purposes as a purgative, purging the body of worms and toxins that cause skin problems through catharsis, working as a mild laxative and stimulating gastrointestinal, gallbladder, and liver secretions. Boneset is therefore useful for acne, a condition associated with liver stress. Boneset is suitable to slowly flush out the liver and reduce the anger often associated with a congested liver. Overall, Boneset normalizes androgen imbalance, especially on the excess side. This hormone heightens the immune response, stimulates bone growth, stresses the liver (hence producing anger), and often causes acne. Boneset has many very specific indications. By benefiting the liver, Boneset reduces anger, tantrums, and changeable, fickle moods, and benefits acne in the head. Boneset treats old mucus settled in the lungs when the patient, especially an elderly patient, is not coughing. Boneset reduces indigestion in old people. Boneset benefits the liver and gallbladder and reduces biliousness, jaundice, acid reflux, indigestion, and exhaustion that occur after malaria. Several sources state that Boneset has diuretic properties (Meuninck, Krochmal), but this is due to confusion with Boneset’s relative Gravel Root or Joe-Pye-Weed, botanical name Eupatorium purpureum (Grieve).
SYSTEMS/ORGANS/TISSUES: Boneset benefits the respiratory system in flus, fevers, and colds. Boneset affects the skeletal system by healing broken or fractured bones and joints, and benefits the tissues around the joints by relieving arthritis, rheumatism, swollen joints, and stiffness. Boneset is a bitter tonic for the digestive system and affects the digestive system as a laxative, cathartic, purgative, and emetic. Boneset improves circulation in the circulatory system. Boneset causes sweating, and conversely controls night sweats, thereby affecting the tissues and pores of the skin. Boneset stimulates the immune system. According to herbalist Matthew Wood, Boneset causes depression and constriction of tissue, and Boneset increases the secretions and excitement of the liver, gallbladder, and gastrointestinal tract.
Boneset, a Native American cure-all, was poulticed over bone breaks to help set bones. Taken internally, the infusion of the aerial parts was cathartic and emetic. The infusion was also used as a gargle to treat sore throat. Other uses include treating hemorrhoids, stomach pain, and headache; reducing chills; and alleviating urinary problems (Meuninck). Extensively employed by American Indians. Widely used, reportedly with success, during flu epidemics in nineteenth and early twentieth century. Boneset tea was used by Native Americans and settlers to induce sweating in fevers, flu, and colds (Duke). Boneset induced perspiration or sweating to treat fevers associated with a number of illnesses: dengue fever (also known as break-bone fever because the pain of dengue fever feels like one has broken bones), malaria, and typhoid (Grieve). Boneset leaf tea was once used to induce sweating in fevers, flus, and colds; also used for malaria, rheumatism, muscular pains, spasm, pneumonia, pleurisy, gout, etc. Leaves poulticed onto tumors (Duke). Native Americans used Boneset to eliminate infection or disease through fever reduction, sweating, and bowel evacuation (Fetrow).
CONTRAINDICATION/CAUTIONS: Boneset is emetic and laxative in large doses (Duke, USDA Plant Database). May contain controversial and potentially liver-harming pyrrolizidine alkaloids or PAs (Duke). Boneset is a strong herb that should be used only when needed. Excessive dosage will cause purging (Cech). Do not use Boneset during pregnancy or in the presence of liver disease (Fetrow, Cech), as Boneset is related to gravel root, Eupatorium purpureum, which contains potentially liver-damaging PAs (Cech). Small doses of the herb are laxative and diuretic, whereas larger doses (may) induce bowel purging and vomiting. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) possibly present in this plant make it possibly dangerous to consume in any form, as these alkaloids have a liver-destroying capacity. Grazing animals have displayed toxicity from eating this plant. Symptoms included drooling, nausea, loss of appetite, weakness, thirst, loss of muscular control, paralysis, and death (Meuninck). Boneset may result in side effects including allergic reaction, diarrhea, and vomiting. People with liver disease or liver damage should not use Boneset as it can potentially damage the liver. One source recommends you tell your heath practitioner you are taking this herb. He or she may order periodic liver function studies to check liver damage (Fetrow). Some herbalists suggest Boneset should not be used with a high fever in excess of 102 degrees Fahrenheit; they also suggest to not use Boneset for more than 6 months. Do not use Boneset while breast-feeding (PFAF Plant Database). Don't worry, Boneset has no poisonous lookalikes.
“Breverton’s Complete Herbal”, by Breverton, Terry, “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants” by Brown, Tom, “Making Plant Medicine”, by Cech, Rico, “Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs”, by Duke, James A. and Steven Foster, “Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines”, by Fetrow, Charles W. “A Modern Herbal” by Grieve, Ms. M., “Holistic Herbal” by Hoffmann, David, “A Guide to Medicinal Plants of Appalachia”, by Krochmal, Arnold and Russell S. Walters and Richard M. Doughty, “Falcon Guide to Medicinal Plants of North America”, by Meuninck, Jim, “Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses” by Miller, James H., “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers” by Niering, William A., and John W. Thieret, “The Earthwise Herbal”, by Wood, Matthew.
The USDA Plant Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EUPE3
Susun Weed Website: www.susunweed.com
Plants For A Future (PFAF) Database: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eupatorium+perfoliatum