Asclepias tuberosa

Pleurisy Root

Asclepias tuberosa


Names: Butterfly Weed.

Habitat: USA

Collection: The rhizome should be unearthed in March or April. Clean,split and dry.

Part Used: Rhizome.

Constituents: * Cardenolides, including asclepiadin

* Flavonoids; rutin, kaempferol, quercitin and isorhamnetin

* Miscellaneous; friedalin, [[alpha]]-and [[beta]]-amyrin, lupeol, viburnitol, choline sugars.

Actions: Diaphoretic, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-inflammatory.

Indications: Pleurisy Root is effective against respiratory infections where it reduces inflammations and assists expectoration. It can be used in thetreatment of bronchitis and other chest condition. The addition of diaphoretic and anti-spasmodic powers will show why it is so highly valued in the treatment of pleurisy and pneumonia. It can be used in influenza.

Priest & Priest give the following specific indications:catarrhal complaints from cold and damp; hard dry cough.Bronchitis, pleurisy, peritonitis. Pneumonia,influenza, intercostal rheumatism and intercostaldiseases.

To quote King’s at length: “It was one of the most common medicines employed by the eclectic fathers. It was favorably written upon by most of the earlier writers on American medicinal plants. The drug has fallen into unmerited neglect, and could profitably be employed at the present day for purposes for which much more powerful and sometimes dangerous, drugs are used. It has an extensive range of usefulness, being possessed of diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, tonic, carminative, expectorant, and probablyanti-spasmodic properties. Asclepias is one of the best diaphoretics of the Eclectic materia medica. It is not stimulating, and may be used to promote diaphoresis, no matter how high the degree of fever. Pleurisy root has a deservedly good reputation in respiratory diseases. It acts upon themucous membrane of the pulmonary tract, augmenting the secretions and favoring easy expectoration. Besides its action on the respiratory mucous surfaces its action upon the skin as a true diaphoretic, establishing the insensible perspiration when the skin is dry and harsh, and correcting that weakness of the skin which allows the sweat to pour out too freely, renders it of value in the sweating of phthisis. As its popular name indicates, pleurisy rootis of much value in treating pleurisy. Not only is its action onserous membranes marked, but it is very effectual in intercostalneuralgia and rheumatism, as well as in pericardialpains. The chief action of Asclepias is to lessen arterial tension, and acute diseases are those in which it is of most value. With the indicated sedative it is one of the best known agents in the early stage of pneumonia, provided always the indications alluded to are present. Somecases will yield to Asclepias alone, but this is not generally the case, as the drug plays more the role of an assistant than a leading remedy. It is as afe drug, for while it may not act as efficiently when not indicated, it maybe said to never be contraindicated, so far as expecting any harm from its use is concerned. In pneumonia, as well as in bronchitis, it is best adapted to the acute stage, where the lesion seems to be extensive, taking in a large area of lung parenchyma and mucous tissues. It undoubtedly acts upon the general circulatory apparatus, lowering arterial tension. In the convalescing stage of pneumonia, and other respiratory lesions, when suppression of the expectoration and dyspnoea threaten, small doses at frequent intervals will correct the trouble. In catarrhal troubles specific Asclepias, well diluted, is useful as a local remedy when used early in the disease. It, as well as Euphrasia andMatricaria, is among our best drugs for snuffles, or acutenasal catarrh of infants. It is an excellent remedy for ordinarycolds. It is, in fact one of our best drugs for catarrhalconditions, whether of the pulmonary or gastro-intestinal tract, especially when produced by recent colds. Stomach troubles, particularlythose of children, are often markedly benefited by small doses. Diarrhoea and dysentery, when of catarrhal character and due to cold are benefited by alternating with other indicated remedies. As a remedy for gastric disorders it is well adapted to children and weak individuals. Headache from disordered digestion has been curedwith it, and for flatulent colic in young children.Dioscorea may also be administered with it in cases of flatus in adults and children. Asclepias is a remedy for nervous irritability of children, especially when due to gastric disturbances. The dry forms ofcutaneous affections are benefited by it especially where it is necessary to establish the true dermal secretions. It is not an activeagent yet on the whole, though apparently a feeble remedy, when indicated, it accomplishes a purpose which no other remedy in the materia medicafulfils.”

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water ontol/2-l teaspoonful of the herb and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take l-2 ml of the tincture three times aday.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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