Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Boneset is a common perennial plant in the Asteraceae family indigenous to Eastern North America, typically found growing stream-side and in swampy areas of forests, meadows, and marshlands. It’s distinguishable by it rough, hairy stem that can grow up to five feet in height from it’s crooked, horizontal roots. It has rough, sessile, serrated and lance shaped leaves that grow opposite one another and a terminal corymb of purplish white flowers that bloom in the late summer and early fall. The fruits mature as tufted achenes. Boneset is an important food and habitat plant for several species of Lepidoptera.

Parts Used
Dried Aerials

Medicinal Uses
Boneset is one of the best flu remedy and tonic herbs you can have growing in the garden. It not only quickly relieves the aches and pains associated with the flu, it also helps the body clear fevers. It works as a diaphoretic, increasing sweating, and relaxes the mucous membranes, helping to clear the upper respiratory tract of congestion and phlegm. It also has mild aperient qualities, clearing the body of built up wastes and easing mild constipation, functioning as a general cleansing herb. In addition to this, it has shown to give relief to those suffering from muscular rheumatism. Boneset tends to change it’s qualities depending on the form it’s taken in. Cold, it functions more as a tonic and gentle laxative herb. Warm, it unveils it’s diaphoretic and emetic qualities, useful for dispersing a common cold and to ease muscular rheumatism. Taken hot the herb works as an emetic and cathartic herb. According to M. Grieve, “It acts slowly and persistently, and its greatest power is manifested upon the stomach, liver, bowels and uterus.”

Folk Uses
Native Americans in Eastern and Central North America used boneset to make a tea to treat colds, fever, and arthritic pains. In the 18th and 19th century, boneset caught as a fever treatment with European settlers and African slaves, and became popular with early eccentric healers as a cure-all. It gained it’s common name, boneset, from it’s notoriety of treating “bone-break fever”, or dengue fever. It was also used to clear the body of parasites such as worms, and was once thought that wrapping the leaves in the bandages for splints would help mend broken bones.

Flavor Profile and Energetics
Bitter, pungent, cooling, decreases Pitta and Kappa, increases Vata.

As an infusion, 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb per cup of water, steeped for 10-15 minutes. As a tincture, 2-4 ml three times daily.

For the flu, combine with yarrow, elder flowers, cayenne, and ginger.

If taken in excessive doses, boneset can prove toxic.

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