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!

Pleurisy Root

Scientific Names

Pleurisy Root

  • Asclepias tuberosa L.
  • Asclepiadaceae
  • Milkweed family

Common Names

  • Asclepias
  • Butterfly weed
  • Canada root
  • Flux root
  • Orange swallow-wort
  • Swallow wort
  • Tuber root
  • White root
  • Wind root

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Parts Usually Used

The root, dried
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Pleurisy root is a native North American perennial plant; The fleshy, white, tuber-like, root produces several stout, erect, round, hairy stems (without milky juice) from 1-3 feet high. The alternate, sessile, with watery sap, leaves are lanceolate to oblong, a darker green above than beneath. Bright orange flowers, stamens forming a structure like a crown, grow in terminal, flat-topped, 2-inch, umbels from June to September, later producing long, edible seed pods that are spindle-shaped. Full sun. Zones 3-10. Heat tolerant.

The plant has a nauseous, bitter taste when fresh, but better when dried.
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Where Found

Found in dry fields, woods, meadows, prairies, on roadsides, and sandy soils along the east coast and westward to Minnesota, Arizona, and northern Mexico.
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Medicinal Properties

Carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, relaxant, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Ascepin is the active principle, asclepiadine, asclepione, cardeno liedes, traces of essential oil, resin, sterol
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Legends, Myths and Stories

One species in the Far East was possibly used as a hallucinogen, which is known in the Hindu religion as “Soma”.

As the name suggests, this herb is used for upper respiratory and lung problems.
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Widely used as an expectorant in the late 19th century. It is recommended for colds, flu, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, bilious fever, typhus, measles, promotes sweating therefore reducing fever, suppressed menses, headache, and bronchial, pleurisy, asthma, and pulmonary problems. Sometimes it was given with cayenne at the beginning of a cold. Native Americans chewed the dried root or made a tea by boiling the root as a remedy for bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and dysentery. Root poultice used for bruises, swellings, and rheumatism.
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Formulas or Dosages

Use the root dried or cooked.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. of powdered root in 1 cup boiling water for 45 minutes, strain, and take 2 tbsp. every 2 hours; more if necessary.

Decoction: boil 1 tsp. root in 1 cup water. Take 1 to 2 cups per day.

Tincture: take 5 to 40 drops every 3 hours, depending on age and condition. At the beginning of a cold, take 5-15 drops in hot water and 3 grains cayenne every hour until you feel warm throughout. For children, the dose is 1-5 drops.
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Animals have been poisoned by feeding on the leaves and stems. The fresh root may also produce undesirable symptoms. For humans, potentially toxic in large doses. The fresh root can be dangerous. Use only commercial preparations.
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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! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

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! 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! 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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