Family: Compositae or Daisy
Synonyms and Common names: thoroughwort, feverwort, ague weed, crosswort, Indian sage, sweating plant, teasel, vegetable antimony, wood boneset.
Introduction: Boneset is a plant, found growing in swamps. The plant is easily recognized by its long, tapering leaves that join each other, around a single stout stem, giving the impression of one longleaf, pierced at the center by the stem. Hence its name perfoliatum, meaning, "Through the leaves."
Description and Habitat: Boneset likes full sun to partial shade, and fairly dry to very wet locations. It occurs naturally in a variety of moist habitats, including marshes, swales, wet fields, fens, shores, thickets, low clearings, and on river and stream banks.
Boneset is a plant native to the wetlands of North America that has a long medicinal history and an attractive, distinctive appearance. While it is still sometimes grown and foraged for its healing properties, it may also appeal to gardeners here in Britain as seeds can be bought from sellers online, but take care of the seeds that have the correct Latin name on the seed packet.
It is also possible to buy dried Boneset herb from a sustainable seller online.
This perennial herb can reach a height of 1.5m. Its stout, hairy stem bears opposite pointed leaves united at the base so as to seem perforated by the stem. These are finely toothed, rough above, downy, and resinous below. The terminal flower clusters are white and reminiscent of yarrow.
Parts used: Aerial parts'
Collection: As soon as the flowers open in August or September.
Constituents: A bitter glycoside called eupatorin, volatile oil, gallic acid, a glucosidal tannin.
Actions: Diaphoretic, febrifuge, aperient, cathartic, emetic, tonic, antispasmodic, relaxes mucous membranes and peripheral blood vessels, peripheral vasodilator, cholagogue, a gentle laxative, an expectorant, and promotes bile flow.
Indications & Therapeutics: Boneset is perhaps the best remedy, for the relief of the associated symptoms that accompany influenza. It will speedily relieve the aches and pains, as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that accompanies flue.
Boneset may also be used to help clear the upper respiratory tract of mucous congestion. Its mild aperient activity will help clear the body of any build-up of waste and can ease constipation.
This remedy may safely be used in any fever, and also as a general cleansing agent. It may provide symptomatic aid in the treatment of muscular rheumatism.
Contraindications: High doses can cause vomiting.
Preparation and dosage:
Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoonful of dried herb, and leave it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 times a day, but in case of high fever or influenza, drink the infusion as hot as possible every half hour until the fever reduces.
Tincture: Take 2-4 ml. Three times a day.
Additional comments and Folklore:
Boneset was a favorite remedy of the Native North American tribes. The Menominees used it to reduce fever, the Iroquois and Mohegans for fever and colds, the Alabamas for upset stomachs, and Creeks for body pain. Native Americans also used Boneset for arthritis, indigestion, constipation, and loss of appetite.
Among European settlers Boneset soon became a popular remedy, in 1887 Dr. Millspaugh wrote.
''There is probably no plant in American domestic practice that has more extensive or frequent use that Boneset; the attic or woodshed of almost every farmhouse has bunches hanging from the rafters, ready for immediate use should some family member of neighbor be taken with a cold'.
Boneset has been used as a magic Herb, being associated with Healing, travel, power, money, endings, & protection. Used in various herbal magic spells. A commonly used magic herb among alternative religious practices.
Boneset's name comes from its traditional use as a treatment for "breakbone fever," an old term for dengue fever. Dengue is a mosquito-borne, viral disease that causes muscle pains so intense that people imagined their bones were breaking, hence its traditional name.