Morgan Botanicals

  (Loveland, Colorado)
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Boneset: Is It A Silly Name For A Fever Herb?

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

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 herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

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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.

 

 

 

 
 

Yarrow...A Local Favorite

Jessica Morgan, M.H.Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) belongs to the sunflower family and can be recognized by its highly segmented leaves (millefolium means "thousand leafed"), and the clusters of daisy-like white or lavender umbel shaped flowers at the top of the stalk. The entire plant is strongly aromatic and similar to mothballs ( as fresh or dried yarrow repels moths). This drought tolerant plant can easily be grown in most yards and responds best to soil that is poorly developed and well drained. It is frost hardy and can easily be grown from seed and/or division. It is a perfect addition to an ornamental bed or border, as well as the herb garden. Seeds require light for germination, so optimal germination occurs when planted no deeper than a quarter inch. Seeds also require a germination temperature of 65-75°F.  Yarrow is a weedy species and can become invasive so should be divided every other year, and planted 12 inches apart. You can find Yarrow Seeds here in my Local Harvest Store.


Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body with cold and flu symptoms as well as breaking fevers. I like mixing yarrow with elderflower and peppermint for an effective fever reducer for my family. Simple yarrow herb tea has also been used in the past for stimulating appetite, helping stomach cramps, flatulence, gastritis, enteritis, gallbladder and liver ailments and also aids internal hemorrhage - particularly of the lungs.

Externally, yarrow has been used for all sorts of external wounds and sores from chapped or broken skin to sore nipples and varicose veins. I include yarrow in my Sitting Pretty Sitz Bath because it is one of the best herbal antiseptic and hemostatic herbs that help stop bleeding and prevent infection in tears from child birth.

Although yarrow should not be used internally during pregnancy, it is otherwise a very safe herb and is a good first herb in the home apothecary for the beginning herbalist. You can find dried Yarrow Herb here in my Local Harvest Store.

***Use yarrow with caution if you are allergic to ragweed. Its use is not recommended while pregnant.

 

As always, please email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

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Copyright 2009. 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.

 
 
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