The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Birthroot

Scientific Names

Birthroot

  • Trillium pendulum L.
  • Trillium erectum. L.
  • Liliaceae
  • Lily family

Common Names

  • American ground lily
  • Beth root
  • Coughroot
  • Ground lily
  • Indian balm
  • Indian shamrock
  • Jew’s-harp plant
  • Lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album)
  • Milk ipecac
  • Nodding wakerobin
  • Pariswort
  • Rattlesnake root
  • Red trillium
  • Snakebite
  • Three-leaved nightshade
  • Trillium
  • Wake-robin

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Parts Usually Used

Rootstock (dried rhizome)
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Birthroot

Birthroot is an herbaceous perennial plant; grows to the height of 10-15 inches, the simple stem arises naked from an oblong, tuberous, short, thick, rootstock (rhizome) and bears, only at the very top, a whorl of three round-ovate, acuminate leaves. In May and June a single yellow-white to reddish-white, unpleasantly scented flower appears above the leaves. The flower grows on a short stalk in the center of the whorl of leaves; it has 3 petals and 3 sepals. The fruit is a pink or red 3 or 6 angled berry.
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Where Found

Found in rich soils and shady woods of the central and western states. Nova Scotia to Georgia mountains, Florida; Tennessee to Michigan, Ontario.
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Medicinal Properties

Antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic, alterative, pectoral
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Biochemical Information

Tannin, resin, glycosides trillin and trillarin, traces of essential oil, saponin, fatty oil and starch
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The root has the faint fragrance of turpentine and a peculiar aromatic and sweetish astringent taste when first chewed, but becomes bitter and acid, causing salivation. Its shape is remindful of popular Ginseng root.
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Uses

Birthroot can be used for coughs, bronchial problems, hemorrhage from the lungs, asthma, difficult breathing, pulmonary consumption, and boiled in milk for diarrhea and dysentery. Used externally and internally for female problems. A poultice or salve relieves insect bites and stings, tumors, inflammations, and ulcers, snakebites, wounds, skin irritation. Birthroot is an indication of its use by the Native Americans as an aid during childbirth. They also used birthroot for menopause, aphrodisiac (root contains steroids). A tea of equal parts of Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) and birthroot was once used for diabetes.
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Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: use 1 tsp. root with 1 cup water (or milk). Drink either hot or cold just before going to bed. Take 1 to 2 cups a day.

Tincture: take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. at a time.
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How Sold

Available in whole, cut, or powdered form. Tincture
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Bibliography

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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