- Asclepias tuberosa L.
- Milkweed family
Parts Usually Used
The root, dried
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
Found in dry fields, woods, meadows, prairies, on roadsides, and
sandy soils along the east coast and westward to Minnesota, Arizona,
and northern Mexico.
Carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, relaxant,
Ascepin is the active principle, asclepiadine, asclepione, cardeno
liedes, traces of essential oil, resin, sterol
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
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.
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
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.
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