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.

We wish you peace and health!

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Dogbane

Scientific Names

Dogbane

  • Apocynum androsaemifolium L.
  • Apocynaceae
  • Order Gentianales
  • Dogbane family

Common Names

  • Bitterroot
  • Catchfly
  • Flytrap
  • Honeybloom
  • Milk ipecac
  • Milkweed
  • Mountain hemp
  • Spreading dogbane
  • Wallflower
  • Wandering milkweed
  • Westernwall
  • Western wallflower

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Parts Usually Used

Rootstock and dried rhizome. Not to be used without medical supervision.
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Dogbane

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Designating a family of dictyledonous herbs, shrubs, and trees, including frangipani and periwinkle.

Dogbane is a bushy, shrub-like, perennial, hairless plant with tough fibrous bark on the stems, exuding milky latex juice when broken.

A large, horizontal, milky rootstock sends up a glabrous stem with tough, fibrous bark to a height of 1-4 feet. The leaves are opposite, roundish to oblong-ovate or ovate, dark green above, lighter and hairy beneath, and grow on short, reddish petioles. The nodding bell-shaped, drooping, fragrant flowers grow in terminal cymes and are pink outside, pink and white striped inside or pink with red markings inside. Blooming time is May to August. The fruit is a pair of long, slender pods. All parts of the plant contain a milky juice.

This plant, dogbane, differs from its close relative Indian Hemp (A. cannabinum) in that its leaves are mostly sessile (stalkless), and the flowers are both in leaf axils and terminal.

Another plant is also called bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) was commonly eaten by the Native Americans in Montana.
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Where Found

Dogbane is a native perennial plant found in both the Atlantic and Pacific coastal states, in dry, sandy soils and around the edges of forests. Less commonly on roadsides and in fields. Newfoundland to Georgia and Arizona. Absent from Kansas and south of North Carolina highlands.
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Medicinal Properties

Cathartic, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, tonic
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Dogbane is so named, they say, because it is said to be poisonous to dogs.

In North America there are 60 species.

No side effects have been found from the proper administration under medical guidance.

Not recommended for use without medical direction.
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Uses

Dogbane has been used to relieve dyspepsia, constipation, fever, gallstones, and dropsy. Used in treatment of liver disorders. Given in large doses, it is cathartic and emetic and may cause other symptoms of poisoning. When used, it is generally combined with less harsh medications suitable for the intended purpose.

A diuretic in dropsy after heart failure. Hemp dogbane is used in medicine in the treatment of heart failure but even in small doses it is dangerous.

Native Americans used the root of dogbane for many ailments. It induces sweating and vomiting; laxative. Used in headaches with sluggish bowels and syphilis.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: Steep 1 tsp. rootstock in 1 pint of boiling water. Take cold, 2 to 3 tsp. 6 times per day.

Tincture: take 5 to 10 drops in water before meals.
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Warning

Poisonous. Cymarin, a cardioactive glycoside, poisons cattle. Eating the leaves has killed the livestock. The milky sap has been used safely externally as a remedy.

The plant has shown anti-tumor activity.

Not recommended for use without medical direction.
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Bibliography

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 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! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

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! 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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