Common Name: Boneset

Botanical NameEupatorium perfoliatum

Family:  Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

Description:  This is a hairy plant with dense flat-topped clusters of many dull- white flowers.  It grows up to 5ft. high, spreading 2 – 3 ft.; leaves 4 – 8” long, opposite, lanceolate, wrinkled, toothed; united at base as to completely surround stem.

Habitat and Range:  Found in low woods and wet meadows; it’s range is throughout the Easter Region of the US.

Parts Used:  Dried aerial parts.

Collection:  Collect as soon as the flowers open in August or September.

Historical Notes:  Early herb doctors determined that the plant would be useful in setting bones, so its leaves were wrapped with bandages around splints.  The dried leaves were also used to make a tonic which was thought to be effective in treating colds, coughs, and constipation.

Flower Essence:  Structure.  Good for people that are scattered and need help putting order into their lives.  Boneset helps with setting priorities and making plans that will lead to the manifestation of goals.

Constituents:  Tannins, bitter principle, flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones.

Actions:  Diaphoretic, aperient, tonic, antispasmodic, relaxes mucus membranes, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, laxative, expectorant, promotes bile flow.  Good for hot feverish colds and influenza with muscle pain.  Combine with yarrow, elderflower, and peppermint.

Taste/Energy:  Bitter, pungent, drying; cool or cold depending on species.

Tissue State:  Wind or Constriction

Organ Affinities:  Has a strong stimulatory effect on the liver, kidneys, skin and mucosa.  There is strong suppression of the respiratory system.  There is weak stimulation of the upper and lower GI, lymphatics, immune system, and the parasympathetic.  There is weak suppression of the cardio-vascular, muscular-skeletal, and central nervous systems; adrenalin stress and sympathetic.

Applications and Indications:  Boneset is one of the best remedies for the relief of symptoms associated with influenza.  It will speedily relieve the aches and pains, as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that is present.  It may also be used to help clear the upper respiratory tract of mucus congestion.  Its mild aperient activity will help clear the body of any build-up of waste and ease constipation.  Boneset can safely be used in any fever and also as a general cleansing agent.  It may provide symptomatic aid in the treatment of muscular rheumatism.

Combinations:  In treating influenza, boneset combines well with yarrow, elder flowers, peppermint, cayenne or ginger.

Preparations and Dosage:  Infusion:  Pour one cup boiling water over 1 – 2 tsp. of dried herb; infuse 10 – 15 minutes.  Drink as hot as possible.  During fevers or flus, drink every half hour.  Tincture:  2 – 4 ml, 3x/day.

Side Effects:  Can cause vomiting in large doses.


National Audubon Society, Inc.  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region, 2nd Printing, New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1979

Hoffmann, David.  The Herbal Handbook, A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism, Rochester, Vermont:  Healing Arts Press, 1987, 1988

Sturdivant, Lee and Tim Blakley.  Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field, and Marketplace, Friday Harbor, WA:  San Juan Naturals, 1999

Wood, Matthew.  The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism, Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books, 2004

Ody, Penelope.  The Complete Medicinal Herbal, New York, NY:  Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993


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