People often ask me "Why such a silly name for a fever herb?" So, I'm clearing up this matter right away: the name boneset implies that this plant is used to treat broken bones, but actually has nothing to do with that, well.......not really. The names of plants often reveal useful information about them, but they can also be very misleading. With a name like boneset, you are likely to lead one astray since the plant was traditionally used in the treatment of fevers, not to mend broken bones. However, with a quick understanding of how the name came to be, it all makes a little more sense.
Boneset's name comes from its traditional use as a treatment for "breakbone fever," an old term for dengue fever. Dengue is a mosquito-borne, viral disease that causes muscle pains so intense that people imagined their bones were breaking, hence its traditional name.
As one of early America's foremost medicinal plants, boneset today has been pushed aside and simply regarded as a weed with a somewhat interesting past. The Indians introduced this native perennial to early Colonists as a sweat-inducer, a beneficial treatment for fevers. The Indians used boneset for all fever-producing illnesses: influenza, cholera, dengue, malaria, and typhoid. Appropriately, but somehow less used, boneset's original common names were feverwort and sweat plant. This forgotten wild flower is known to treat minor viral and bacterial illnesses as well by revving up the immune system's response to infection and initiate profuse sweating. When you run a fever, and employ herbs that cause the body to sweat, the sweat itself helps cool the body down naturally as well as open the pores and restore circulation. The Indians knew this all to well and I'd say we are lucky to have been introduced to this herb that was used for centuries by indigenous North Americans.
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) was listed as a treatment for fever in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 through 1916, and in the National Formulary, the pharmacists' manual, from 1926 through 1950. It had no equal as a cough, cold and fever remedy during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But over time it fell from favor, replaced by another fever fighter, Aspirin.
Traditionally, boneset is taken as a tea using the leaves and flowering tops. To prepare a tea,
infuse 1 Tbsp. herb in a cup of boiled water and
allow to steep, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink half cup every 2-3 hours. It's pretty bitter and well, kinda gross, but very effective and well worth the effort. Boneset also has the ability to loosen phlegm and promote productive removal which makes it a beneficial herb for colds.
A favorite tea that I use and like to call 'Fever Break Tea', is a personal blend of Elder Flower, Yarrow, Peppermint and Boneset. Then wrap up warm and allow the herbs to do their magic.
***Please keep in mind that boneset should be taken for acute conditions and for a limited amount of time, as long term use can cause degeneration of the liver and kidneys. However, it is still far safer than Acetaminophen and tastes equally as bad- so I personally will choose the boneset cure.
If you're looking for Boneset or other quality herbs, check
here on my site morganbotanicals.com or in my Local Harvest store.
As always, please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.