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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Indian Pipe

Scientific Names

Indian Pipe

  • Monotropa uniflora L.
  • Heath family

Common Names

  • Bird’s nest
  • Bird’s nest root
  • Convulsion-root
  • Convulsion weed
  • Corpse plant
  • Dutchman’s-pipe
  • Fairy smoke
  • Fit plant
  • Fit root
  • Fit root plant
  • Ghost flower
  • Ice plant
  • Nest root
  • Ova-ova
  • Pipe plant

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Parts Usually Used

Root, whole plant
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Description of Plant(s) and
Culture

Indian pipe is a unique perennial plant without chlorophyll; a mass of dark, brittle, saprophytic roots produces the ivory-white, waxy stem growing 4-10 inches high and covered with scaly bracts. The stem is topped by a single, nodding, white, pipe-bowl-shaped or bell-shaped flower which turns black when bruised. The whole plant is translucent white. Scalelike leaves nearly absent. Blooms June to October.
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Where Found

Grows in dark, rich woods in the temperate and warmer parts of North America. Too scarce to harvest. Maine to the Carolinas, westward to Missouri.
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Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, febrifuge, nervine, sedative, tonic
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Once called “Ice plant” because it resembles frozen jelly, and “melts” when handled. Also called “Bird’s Nest”, in reference to the shape of the entangled root fibers.
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Uses

A good remedy (root tea) for spasms, fainting spells, epilepsy, lockjaw, convulsions, sedative, muscle spasms, St. Vitus dance, and various nervous conditions and may be helpful in remittent and intermittent fever, takes the place of quinine and opium. Mixed with fennel seed, it makes a good eyewash, bunions, warts, gonorrhea, bladder problems, and vaginal douche for vaginal and uterine inflammations. The plant was soaked in rose water, then a cloth was soaked in the mixture and applied to the eyes. The roots are known to be a powerful emetic and one used by Native Americans.

Native Americans drank the tea for aches and pains due to colds.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: use 1 tsp. Indian pipe root and 1 tsp. fennel seed with 1 pint boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes and strain.

The powdered root: 1/2 tsp., 2-3 times per day.
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Warning

Safety undetermined; possibly toxic. Contains several glycosides.
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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! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

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

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

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