Another favorite herb of the North American Natives is the Boneset plant. The herb was used in folk medicine to break ‘bone fever’ (also known as Dengue fever) and hence the name. This article discusses the benefits, dosage levels, side effects and other considerations of this herb in detail.
What iIs Boneset?
Boneset is a flowering plant found mainly in the Northern and Eastern parts of the United States, and is also found in Canada. The herb is a part of a bigger family with more than sixty related species. Boneset usually grows in marshes and meadows. Boneset plant is valued for its flowers and leaves.
The botanical name of Boneset is – Eupatorium perfoliatum. It is said that the genus Eupatorium is derived from the word Eupator which was the name of an ancient king and an early discoverer of the medicinal values of this plant. Boneset is mainly known for its ability to treat fever, cold and other viral infections in humans.
Boneset is also known by other common names such as – Agueweed (the name used by Native Americans years ago), Feverwort, Indian Sage, Thoroughwort, Wood boneset, teasel, wild Isaac, sweat plant (for its ability to induce sweating to break the fever) etc.
This perennial herb grows to about 1.5 m in height with 10-15 cm long leaves and white colored flowers. Boneset has a bitter taste and an aromatic odor. Typically, this herb is available in the market in the following forms – herbal tea, capsules & tablets and as tinctures.
How Does It Work?
Boneset breaks fever as it has many important chemicals with life saving properties and effects on humans. It is said that Boneset has – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, astringent, ant-tumor, Immuno-stimulating, carminative and cytotoxic properties.
The herb contains more than 20 nutrients including calcium, iron, chromium, niacin, zinc, selenium and magnesium. Boneset also contains Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The herb contains the following compounds – sesquiterpene lactones, polysaccharides, flavonoids such as astragalin, quercitin and rutin, diterpenes, volatile oil, sterol, resin, tannic acid and gum.
The sesquiterpene lactones, polysaccharides and flavonoids in Boneset make it an effective analgesic, antiphlogistic, febrifuge, tonic, anti-inflammatory, laxative, anti-spasmodic and diaphoretic herb. Centuries ago in the United States the herb was known as a cure-for-all; plant and the herbal extract was always kept on hand during the flu season by families & doctors alike. Benefits of Boneset include the following:
To Reduce Fever
The name boneset itself means to break a fever. This ability of the plant was successfully tested in a homeopathic study (against aspirin) and also in another in-vitro study. This herb was used extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries by American and European settlers.
The herb reduces fever by increasing the body’s ability to sweat and lower the temperature. Even before aspirin was made popular, civil war troops depended on Boneset to keep fever at bay. The herb is still used as an effective febrifuge (one that reduces body temperature) to treat intermittent fever. Traditionally, the herb was used to treat dengue fever and malaria.
To Treat Viral & Bacterial Infections
Boneset is also popularly and effectively used to treat viral infections like cold and flu. The herb treats cold by increasing the body temperature to kill the harmful and nasty virus. Some say that the polysaccharides in the herb have anti-bacterial properties too.
The herb is also used to treat the following infections – influenza, pneumonia and swine flu. Boneset helps in fighting viral infection by strengthening the immune system as it has chemicals with immuno-stimulant effects.
To Treat Pain
Another common usage of Boneset is to treat aches and pains. The herb was traditionally used as poultices and as a topical plaster. Boneset is used to treat rheumatism related joint pain, muscular pain and migraine pain. The herb eases pain as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
To Loosen Phlegm
Another traditional usage of Boneset is in relieving congestion due to excessive phlegm. The herb promotes cough and helps in loosening phlegm. Boneset is also used in patients to treat acute bronchitis and nasal inflammation.
For Digestion Problems
Boneset is also used to treat digestion & bowel related problems like constipation, diarrhea and intestinal worms. Traditionally, the herb was used to treat digestion problems in elderly patients.
It is claimed that boneset even has anti-tumor properties, though this claim has never been scientifically validated. The herb is also used as a diuretic to increase urine output and to induce sweating. Traditionally, it was also used to treat liver related problems and even jaundice. Other uses of Boneset include treating the following conditions – fibromyalgia, cutaneous diseases, tapeworm and tonsillitis.
Dosage Levels For Boneset
To treat cold and fever, boneset tea is said to be more effective even though it is extremely bitter tasting. To make an herbal tea from Boneset, add 1-2 grams or half a teaspoon of the herb in boiling water. The recommended maximum dosage level to induce sweating is up to 4-5 cups in a day. In case tincture is used, the ideal dosage level would be 4 ml or 3/4th of a teaspoon taken 3 times a day.
Side Effects & Other Considerations
Side effects may include allergic reactions in those who are already allergic to ragweed and related species from the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Side effects are usually rare when Boneset is taken in optimum amount and for a shorter period of time. However, the herb is unsafe when taken in large doses. Over dose of Boneset may lead to vomiting, bowel related problems and in extreme cases, liver damage. The herb should be avoided in pregnant women and lactating mothers. It should also be avoided in patients with liver problems.
Boneset is an herb that has been made popular by its usage during ancient times. However, there are limited scientific evidences to prove the health related benefits of this herb. Currently, the herb is available in the market as an herbal supplement and also in homeopathic medicines. It must be remembered that boneset tea must be consumed when it is cold and always dried extracts have to be used.
Fresh Boneset plant has some toxic chemical that can lead to health related complications. Boneset is a bitter tasting herb and can be combined with ginger, lemon and honey to get the extra flavor & taste. According to some traditional claims, to best treat influenza the herb must be taken along with cayenne, ginger, lemon balm and peppermint. Boneset supplements must be taken half an hour before food. Also, for best results boneset extracts must be taken from day one of the fever.