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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Senega Snakeroot

Scientific Names

Senega Snakeroot

  • Polygala senega L.
  • Polygalaceae
  • Milkwort family

Common Names

  • Milkwort
  • Mountain flax
  • Seneca snakeroot

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Parts Usually Used

Root
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Senega snakeroot is a perennial plant, 6-18 inches tall; the hard, crooked, snake-like rootstock produces 15 to 20 or more smooth, erect stems which grow from 6-18 inches high. The alternate, lanceolate leaves are sessile or almost so and come to a fairly sharp point. Small, pea-like, white or greenish flowers grow in dense terminal spikes, 5 sepals, 3 petals and the capsules are small, 2 celled and 2 valved; from May to June.
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Where Found

Native to the rocky woods and hills of eastern North America, growing as far sough as North Carolina and Arkansas.
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Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, cathartic, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, stimulant
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Biochemical Information

Polygalic acid, virginic, pectic, tannic acids, fixed oil, gum, albumen, salts, alumina, silica, magnesia and iron

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Uses

Most commonly used as an expectorant in respiratory problems. The Seneca Indians, who introduced it to the white man, chewed the root to make a mash which was applied to snakebites after cutting the bite and sucking out the poison.

Native Americans also used the root tea as an emetic, to induce sweat, to regulate menses, for colds, croup, pleurisy, iritis, blood poisoning, smallpox, rheumatism, heart troubles, convulsions, coughs, and poulticed root for swellings.

Historically, root tea was used similarly but added pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma; thought to relax the respiratory mucous membranes. Research suggests use for pulmonary conditions.
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Formulas or Dosages

The rootstock is used dried. Gather in autumn just before the frost.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. root in 1 cup hot water. Take 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: a dose is from 5 to 10 drops.
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Warning

Large doses cause vomiting and diarrhea; an overdose is poisonous. Use with medical supervision.
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Bibliography

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 Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

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

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

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