Pleurisy Root

Pleurisy Root


Appearance and Location

Pleurisy Root

Pleurisy Root, also known as “Butterfly Weed” or “Orange Milkweed,” is a herbaceous perennial in the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family and is scientifically called Asclepias tuberosa. the Asclepiadaceae family consists of 348 genera, with about 2,900 species. The botanical name “Asclepias” is named after the Greek god of medicine Asklepios. The species name tuberose refers to the plant’s tuberous (knobby and with swellings) roots. Additionally, during colonial America, the dried leaves of Butterfly Weed, along with skunk cabbage, were brewed into a tea that was used to treat chest inflammations. As a result, butterfly weed earned the alternative name of “Pleurisy Root.”

Pleurisy Root is commonly found in dry open habitats, especially in the prairies and grasslands of the Midwest and Great Plains. This bright orange plant is composed of multiple stems that are straight and densely covered in hair. It typically grows 1 to 2 feet high and has leaves that are simple and arranged alternately. Unlike other milkweed species, Pleurisy Root lacks the characteristic thick milky sap, instead having a watery and translucent sap. The inflorescence is slightly rounded or flat and is composed of numerous individual flowers. Each flower consists of five downward-pointing petals and a crown of five erect hoods. The fruit is a pod that contains numerous brown seeds, each adorned with a tuft of silky white hairs. Although the root of Pleurisy Root is typically used the most for its medicinal benefits, various parts of the plant were also utilized by several Indigenous tribes for different purposes, including as a food source.

Functions and Properties Throughout History

Pleurisy Root Tea

Pleurisy Root has held a prominent position in Indigenous culture for hundreds of years. They commonly used the roots of the plant to treat various ailments, including typhoid, pneumonia, congestion, dysentery, colic, eczema, and even hysteria. However, different tribes had their own specific uses for Pleurisy Root. For example:

  • The Natchez people brewed a tea using boiled Pleurisy Root to treat pneumonia and believed it to be effective for hot, dry fevers.

  • The Omaha tribe exclusively allowed members of the Shell society to dig and distribute the roots, which were consumed raw to relieve bronchitis and chest ailments.

  • The Menominee tribe used powdered root for treating cuts, bruises, and wounds. They either applied the powder directly onto wounds or dried and pulverized the root, and then blew it into the wounds as a remedy

  • The Cheyenne tribe made a tea from the plant to address snowblindness and other eye issues, applying it to the eyes with clean cloths. They also utilized the chewed root for rashes, sores, diaper rash, and teething discomfort in babies.

  • The Mesquakie tribe employed the root to expel tapeworms, while some species served as contraceptives.

  • In Mexico, Asclepias is known as “immortal” due to its ability to regrow indefinitely from the root. It was widely used as a remedy for pleurisy and chest congestion.

  • The Aztec Herbal of 1552 endorsed the pleurisy root as a purgative, laxative, and treatment for chest congestion, and its usage for these purposes persists to this day.

Additionally, Pleurisy Root was utilized by European Americans for its medicinal properties. It was commonly used to alleviate inflammation of the lungs and thorax, as well as to provide relief for bronchial and pulmonary issues. Pleurisy Root acted as a stimulant to the vagus nerve, promoting perspiration, expectoration, and bronchial dilation. As its name suggests, it proved beneficial for treating pleurisy and mild pulmonary edema, enhancing fluid circulation, cilia function, and lymphatic drainage. The root of the Butterfly Milkweed, which Pleurisy Root is derived from, held official listings in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1905 and in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1936.

On a different note, Butterfly Weed has been used for various purposes throughout the United States and Southern Canada. It provides durable fibers for making cords, ropes, and cloth. After the stalks wither in late fall to early winter, they are gathered and split open to release the fibers. Sometimes, milkweed fibers are mixed with Indian-hemp fibers. By removing the bark and rubbing the fibers, they are released and can be twisted together to form a cord. In the Pueblo region, ancient textiles have been discovered, showcasing the use of fibers from Butterfly Weed stems. The Pueblo people have also incorporated the green pods and uncooked roots of certain milkweed species into their diets. Moreover, the tradition lives on as the Tewa-speaking people of the Rio Grande continue to make string and rope from these fibers, while the Zuni Pueblo utilize the delicate fibers from Butterfly Weed seeds to craft luxurious yarn and fabric specifically designed for dancers’ attire.

Remember to join us each month as we explore the history, personality, clinical application, and more of Nancy’s favorite plants. Get a snippet of the properties and practical uses of these herbs and how they supported the health of our ancestors as well as how they can support us in our present day.

Stay Tuned for Clinical Application of Pleurisy Root

Resources:

The Naturopathic Herbalist | American Botanical Council – Herbalgram | USDA – Forest Service | Unacademy | Healthline | USDA Plant Guide | Herbal Encylopedia


Appearance and Location

Pleurisy Root

Pleurisy Root, also known as “Butterfly Weed” or “Orange Milkweed,” is a herbaceous perennial in the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family and is scientifically called Asclepias tuberosa. the Asclepiadaceae family consists of 348 genera, with about 2,900 species. The botanical name “Asclepias” is named after the Greek god of medicine Asklepios. The species name tuberose refers to the plant’s tuberous (knobby and with swellings) roots. Additionally, during colonial America, the dried leaves of Butterfly Weed, along with skunk cabbage, were brewed into a tea that was used to treat chest inflammations. As a result, butterfly weed earned the alternative name of “Pleurisy Root.”

Pleurisy Root is commonly found in dry open habitats, especially in the prairies and grasslands of the Midwest and Great Plains. This bright orange plant is composed of multiple stems that are straight and densely covered in hair. It typically grows 1 to 2 feet high and has leaves that are simple and arranged alternately. Unlike other milkweed species, Pleurisy Root lacks the characteristic thick milky sap, instead having a watery and translucent sap. The inflorescence is slightly rounded or flat and is composed of numerous individual flowers. Each flower consists of five downward-pointing petals and a crown of five erect hoods. The fruit is a pod that contains numerous brown seeds, each adorned with a tuft of silky white hairs. Although the root of Pleurisy Root is typically used the most for its medicinal benefits, various parts of the plant were also utilized by several Indigenous tribes for different purposes, including as a food source.


Functions and Properties
Throughout History

Pleurisy Root Tea

Pleurisy Root has held a prominent position in Indigenous culture for hundreds of years. They commonly used the roots of the plant to treat various ailments, including typhoid, pneumonia, congestion, dysentery, colic, eczema, and even hysteria. However, different tribes had their own specific uses for Pleurisy Root. For example:

  • The Natchez people brewed a tea using boiled Pleurisy Root to treat pneumonia and believed it to be effective for hot, dry fevers.

  • The Omaha tribe exclusively allowed members of the Shell society to dig and distribute the roots, which were consumed raw to relieve bronchitis and chest ailments.

  • The Menominee tribe used powdered root for treating cuts, bruises, and wounds. They either applied the powder directly onto wounds or dried and pulverized the root, and then blew it into the wounds as a remedy

  • The Cheyenne tribe made a tea from the plant to address snowblindness and other eye issues, applying it to the eyes with clean cloths. They also utilized the chewed root for rashes, sores, diaper rash, and teething discomfort in babies.

  • The Mesquakie tribe employed the root to expel tapeworms, while some species served as contraceptives.

  • In Mexico, Asclepias is known as “immortal” due to its ability to regrow indefinitely from the root. It was widely used as a remedy for pleurisy and chest congestion.

  • The Aztec Herbal of 1552 endorsed the pleurisy root as a purgative, laxative, and treatment for chest congestion, and its usage for these purposes persists to this day.

Additionally, Pleurisy Root was utilized by European Americans for its medicinal properties. It was commonly used to alleviate inflammation of the lungs and thorax, as well as to provide relief for bronchial and pulmonary issues. Pleurisy Root acted as a stimulant to the vagus nerve, promoting perspiration, expectoration, and bronchial dilation. As its name suggests, it proved beneficial for treating pleurisy and mild pulmonary edema, enhancing fluid circulation, cilia function, and lymphatic drainage. The root of the Butterfly Milkweed, which Pleurisy Root is derived from, held official listings in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1905 and in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1936.

On a different note, Butterfly Weed has been used for various purposes throughout the United States and Southern Canada. It provides durable fibers for making cords, ropes, and cloth. After the stalks wither in late fall to early winter, they are gathered and split open to release the fibers. Sometimes, milkweed fibers are mixed with Indian-hemp fibers. By removing the bark and rubbing the fibers, they are released and can be twisted together to form a cord. In the Pueblo region, ancient textiles have been discovered, showcasing the use of fibers from Butterfly Weed stems. The Pueblo people have also incorporated the green pods and uncooked roots of certain milkweed species into their diets. Moreover, the tradition lives on as the Tewa-speaking people of the Rio Grande continue to make string and rope from these fibers, while the Zuni Pueblo utilize the delicate fibers from Butterfly Weed seeds to craft luxurious yarn and fabric specifically designed for dancers’ attire.

Remember to join us each month as we explore the history, personality, clinical application, and more of Nancy’s favorite plants. Get a snippet of the properties and practical uses of these herbs and how they supported the health of our ancestors as well as how they can support us in our present day.

Stay Tuned for Clinical Application of Pleurisy Root

Resources:

The Naturopathic Herbalist | American Botanical Council – Herbalgram | USDA – Forest Service | Unacademy | Healthline | USDA Plant Guide | Herbal Encylopedia