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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Pipsissewa

Scientific Names

Pipsissewa

  • Chimaphila umbellata L.
  • Pyrolaceae
  • Heath family

Common Names

  • Bitter wintergreen
  • False wintergreen
  • Ground holly
  • King’s cure
  • Prince’s pine
  • Rheumatism weed

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Parts Usually Used

The entire plant
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Pipsissewa is a perennial; 6-12 inches; a small half-shrubby, evergreen plant; a creeping, white rootstock produces several angular stems growing to about a foot high. The leathery, bright green leaves, 2-3 inches long, thick and shiny and toothed, grow in whorls and are oblanceolate to oblong with sharply serrate margins. Terminal corymbs of nodding, waxy, white or pinkish, fragrant flowers with purple centers, with 5 petals and a ring of red anthers, rise above the leaves in a cluster of 4-7 blossoms; appear from May to August. The fruit is an erect 5-celled capsule.
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Where Found

Grows in dry woods (acid soil rich in leaf mold) of the northern temperate areas of the world. It is found everywhere in the United States and southern Canada, in the mountains in the south. Absent from the southeastern and central southern states.
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Medicinal Properties

Alterative, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, tonic
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Biochemical Information

The glycosides arbutin, ericolin and chimophilin, excreted in the urine as disinfectant substances similar to uva ursi, sitosterol, ursolic acid
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Uses

Noted for producing diuretic action without irritant side-effects. Prolonged use of the leaf tea is said to dissolve bladder stones and dropsy. It has been recommended for scrofula and rheumatic problems. With medical supervision, it can be used for dropsy, albuminuria, hematuria, chronic kidney problems, and gonorrhea. Externally, a tea or poultice made from the plant can be applied to ulcers, sores, tumors, blisters, and swellings, muscle cramps.

Native Americans used leaf tea for backaches, coughs, stomachaches, as a blood purifier, diuretic; drops used for sore eyes. Leaves were smoked as a tobacco substitute.
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Formulas or Dosages

Use leafy part of plant, fresh or dried.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. leaves (or plant) in 1/2 cup water. Take in the course of a day, a mouthful at a time, unsweetened.

Tincture: take 2 to 15 drops, as needed. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Old timers made a beer of pipsissewa for medicinal use.
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Warning

Leaves poulticed on the skin may induce redness, blisters, and peeling. Arbutin hydrolyzes to the toxic urinary antiseptic hydroquinone.
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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! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 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! 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! 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! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

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! 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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