(photo by 2018, John Hilty)
Part: leaf and flowering top
Energy: neutral to cool
Taste: bitter, slightly acrid and astringent
Latin name: Eupatorium perfoliatum
Western herbalism use: constituents include; caffeic acid derivatives, immune-stimulating polysaccharides; flavonoids, quercetin, kaempferol, astragalin; sesquiterpene lactones, eupafolin, eufoliatin, vitamin.C, and volatile oils, etc.
Actions: diaphoretic, febrifuge, expectorant, bitter tonic, sudorific tonic, stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, emetic (induces vomiting) in large doses
Considered a detoxifying herb, especially for the skin (sudorific tonic action) and via detoxifying action of the liver (bitter tonic) and is said to inhibit viral activity in relation to influenza (immune-stimulating and diaphoretic action).
“The extract showed potent cytotoxicity with EC50 values (12–14 µg/mL) comparable to a standard cytotoxic agent, chlorambucil.” (Habtemariam, Solomon, and Angela M. Macpherson, 2000). *chlorambucil, also known as Leukeran, is a chemotherapy pharmaceutical used to treat chronic lymphoma and some other associated lymphoma conditions. Boneset showed cytotoxicity to cancer cells as comparable to Leukeran in this study.
“The polysaccharides show a phagocytosis enhancing effect as determined in three immunological test systems” (Vollmar, Angelika, Wolfram Schäfer, and Hildebert Wagner, 1986).
“in vitro experiments with plant extracts both indicate antiinflammatory effects beside antiplasmodial effect against Plasmodium falciparum. Such, antiinflammation caused by the ethanolic extracts can be correlated well with clinical symptoms related to diseases as common cold, rheumatism, arthritis etc.” (Hensel, Andreas, et al. 2011).
“extracts from the aerial parts of E. perfoliatum were shown to inhibit growth of a clinical isolate of IAV(H1N1)” (Derksen, Andrea, et al. 2016).
Chinese name: Guan Ye Zelan
Traditional Chinese Medicine use: considered to have an effect on the Organs; Liver and Lungs, and helps with releasing or expelling pathogenic Wind/Heat and clearing Heat in relation to feverish conditions (sometimes called “breakbone fever” or dengue). Also, considered for use with rheumatic conditions that come and go (Wind) along with inflammation (Heat) and swelling (stagnation leading to dampness).
Cautions: considered safe in small doses taken over short periods of time
“Common Boneset is emetic and laxative in large doses, and it may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are potentially harmful to the liver” (Belt, S. 2009) * https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/mdpmcfs8332.pdf
Preparation and dosage: 0.5 to 20 grams, some books say 3-9 grams (Tierra, 2011)
-tea (infusion), 1 cup 3x/day along with other liver herbs or other Wind patterns
-decoction (simmer herbs with water for at least ten minutes), 4 tbsp every 3-4 hours, combine with other diaphoretic/anti-bacterial/anti-viral herbs or along with other liver herbs for liver complaints and constipation
*Always consult a qualified health professional before using herbal medicine, especially in conjunction with pharmaceuticals
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Image: (common boneset photo) 2018, John Hilty. https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plant_index.htm#cm_boneset
1) Habtemariam, Solomon, and Angela M. Macpherson. “Cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity of ethanol extract from leaves of a herbal drug, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 14.7 (2000): 575-577.
2) Vollmar, Angelika, Wolfram Schäfer, and Hildebert Wagner. “Immunologically active polysaccharides of Eupatorium cannabinum and Eupatorium perfoliatum.” Phytochemistry 25.2 (1986): 377-381.
3) Hensel, Andreas, et al. “Eupatorium perfoliatum L.: phytochemistry, traditional use and current applications.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 138.3 (2011): 641-651.
4) Derksen, Andrea, et al. “Antiviral activity of hydroalcoholic extract from Eupatorium perfoliatum L. against the attachment of influenza A virus.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 188 (2016): 144-152.
5) Belt, S. 2009. Plant fact sheet for common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum L.). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center, Beltsville, MD 20705.
6) Tierra, 2011. East West Herb Course, Section II