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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Indigo

Scientific Names

Indigo

  • Baptisia tinctoria L.
  • Indigofera tinctoria L.
  • Leguminosae
  • Pea family

Common Names

  • American indigo
  • False indigo
  • Rattle bush
  • Horsefly bush
  • Horsefly weed
  • Indigo broom
  • Lan-ts’ao (Chinese name)
  • Mu-lan
  • Wild indigo
  • Yellow broom
  • Yellow indigo

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Parts Usually Used

Bark of the root and the leaves

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The wild indigo is of several species of closely related genus. Wild indigo has blackish and woody roots, a perennial plant, sends up a stem which is very much branched, round, smooth and from 2-3 feet high. The leaves are rounded at the extremity, small, clover-like and alternate. The bright yellow, pea-like, flowers appear in July and August. The fruit is a bluish-black color in the form of an oblong pod. Any portion of the plant, when dried, yields a blue dye which is not equal in value to indigo.

Other varieties: Cream wild indigo (B. leucophaea) and blue false indigo (B. australis).
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Where Found

Found in the southern and eastern states of the United States and Canada. Dry soil.
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Medicinal Properties

Antiseptic, stimulant, purgative, emmenagogue
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Biochemical Information

The seed pod contains indigo, tannin, acid and baptisia
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Legends, Myths and Stories

In India and Pakistan, some of the local names are Guli, Nil-Nilika; common and Indian Indigo.

The vegetable dye known to have been in use the longest is indigo. An indigo-dyed garment dating from about 3000 BC was found in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes; and references to blue in the biblical book of Exodus (25:4 and 35:25) undoubtedly mean also that indigo was used, although by this times purple and red had joined the company. Indigo dye happens to be naturally resistant to fading, but most vegetables dyes are “fugitive” and need added treatment to become color-fast.
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Uses

If the shoots are used after they acquire a green color they will cause dramatic purgation. A stem decoction used for pneumonia, tuberculosis, and influenza. The tips of Indigo combined and boiled with chopped twigs of Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) was used as a kidney medication. The tea was used in cases of smallpox, given internally in small doses and externally as a cleansing wash.

Used in ulcerations of the skin and mucous colitis and amebic dysentery, follicular tonsillitis and quinsy, septic conditions of the blood, muscular soreness, rheumatic and arthritic pains, and constriction of the chest, whooping cough, dropsy, epilepsy, nervous disorders, chills, fever. Also good for mumps and, piles, worms.

Externally, applications of leaf poultice or a paste of indigo and warm water is used for burns, scalds, wounds, insect bites, animal bites, boils.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. in 1 pint of boiling water. Take 1 tsp. at a time, as required.

Tincture: take 10-20 drops 3 times a day. Use with caution.
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Warning

Do not exceed the stated dose; high doses may cause vomiting.
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Bibliography

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

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

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

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

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

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! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

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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