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!

Twin Leaf

Scientific Names


  • Jeffersonia diphylla L.
  • Berbidaceae
  • Barberry family

Common Names

  • Ground squirrel pea
  • Helmet pod
  • Jeffersonia
  • Rheumatism root
  • Twin leaf root
  • Yellowroot

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Parts Usually Used

The whole plant, root especially
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Description of Plant(s) and

Twin leaf is a perennial plant; the horizontal, fleshy rootstock with matted fibrous roots produces a simple, naked scape, 12-18 inches tall. Emanating also from the rootstock, the large, smooth basal leaves, 3-6 inches long and 2-5 inches wide, are divided into 2 half-ovate leaflets. Blooming from April to May, a large, solitary, white, 8 petaled flower terminates the scape. The fruit is an obovate capsule. The plant is only 6-9 inches tall in flower, but is double that height in fruit.
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Where Found

Grows in limestone soils and in woods near rivers from Ontario westward to Wisconsin and southward to Virginia and Tennessee. Too rare to harvest.
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Medicinal Properties

Antirheumatic, alterative, antispasmodic, antisyphilitic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Bitter substance, an acrid and nauseating constituent, pectin, fatty resin, tannic acid, gum starch, sugar and mineral matters
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Twin leaf is used for chronic rheumatism, nervous and spasmodic problems, neuralgia, headaches, especially headaches with dizziness and feelings of tension, stress, syphilis, scarlatina, scarlet fever, diarrhea, kidney gravel, dropsy, urinary infections, and cramps. In small doses, it is used as an expectorant and a tonic; in large doses, as an emetic. As a gargle, it is useful for throat infections. Applied externally as a poultice or fomentation, it will relieve pain anywhere in the body, treats ulcers, sores, inflammations, and cancerous sores.
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Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: steep 1 tsp. root in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes, then simmer 10 minutes and strain. Take 1 cup, then follow with small frequent doses.

Tincture: a dose is from 5 to 20 drops.
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Too rare to harvest. Probably toxic.
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Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

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! 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

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