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Medicinal Uses and Side Effects of the Pleurisy Root

Medicinal Uses and Side Effects of the Pleurisy Root

Treating lung conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and pleurisy has been one of the major medicinal uses of the pleurisy root. This HolisticZine article has more...
HolisticZine Staff
Did You Know?

The United States Pharmacopoeia listed the pleurisy root as an official medicine from 1820 to 1905.

Indigenous to eastern North America, the pleurisy root (asclepias tuberosa) has long been used to treat respiratory tract disorders. Belonging to the species of milkweed, this perennial orange-flowered plant that reaches to a height of 0.3 to 1 meter is known for its medicinal root. Its traditional use by the Native Americans dates back to thousands of years. The root of this herb is prized for its ability to treat lung conditions. Following are some purported health benefits of the plant root.
Medicinal Uses of the Pleurisy Root
Antidote for Pleurisy
The pleurisy root has been a traditional remedy for pleurisy, a condition in which the pleura (a thin membrane that encircles the lungs) is inflamed. For centuries, the Native Americans used the herb for lung problems. It is said to alleviate this inflammation of the pleural membrane. The pleurisy root promotes stimulation of the lymphatic system, which helps drain excess fluid from the lungs as well as combats infections.
Relieves Pneumonia
Eclectic physicians used this herb to treat mucus buildup within the lungs, a condition commonly associated with pneumonia. Traditionally, it has been used to relieve chest congestion caused by lung ailments like pneumonia, whooping cough, bronchitis, seasonal flu, and common cold. The Omaha, a native American tribe, simply consumed the root raw to treat bronchitis. The root of this plant is said to be a natural expectorant which helps liquify the mucus and facilitate its expulsion.
Improves Digestive Issues
The root purportedly shows carminative action, which may help get rid of trapped intestinal gas that often causes a bloated stomach. Other digestion problems that cause stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and dysentery may also respond to this herbal remedy. In short, taking the root regularly may help with digestion. It was also taken internally by the Native Americans to get rid of tapeworms.
Facilitates Wound Healing
Pleurisy has also been used externally as a poultice. The poultice of the root is said to draw out an infection from a wound, which may contribute to speeding up its healing. This topical remedy may also work to treat bruises, skin ulcers, swelling, besides other injuries.
Alleviate Fever
The root is said to have diaphorectic activity, meaning, its intake can induce heavy sweating, which assists to break a fever associated with various infections and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatic fever. So, drinking a cup of hot tea made from this diaphorectic herb may contribute in lowering high fever.
Relieves Menstrual Problems
The herb is said to display emmenagogue properties, meaning, it stimulates menstrual discharge. This can be helpful to treat delayed or suppressed menstruation. The pleurisy root is also endowed with antispasmodic properties, which may assist in treating menstrual cramps that trigger painful periods.
Usage
The tea prepared from the root of this plant, purportedly having expectorant properties, has been used to treat respiratory tract infections. The root is available in the form of powder, which can be used to make the tea. On the other hand, the poultice or the tincture made from this root is used for external application. The tincture can also be taken internally; just mix 6 to 12 drops in a glass of juice or water.
Pleurisy Root Side Effects
When taken in the desired dosage it may not cause any side effects. However, when taken in more than the prescribed dose, it may defeat the very purpose of using the herb. Excess dosage taken internally can cause the following side effects:
  • Intestinal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Being a uterine stimulant, women during pregnancy, should altogether avoid taking the pleurisy root. Also, an active ingredient found in the root mimics the action of digoxin, a drug that slows down the heart rate. So, taking it in excess can cause abnormal heart rhythm. As it can interfere with a person's heart rhythm, people with heart conditions are also advised not to take the herb.
Although the pleurisy root has a long history of use, its benefits are not backed by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). So, before using the root of the herb for medical reasons, it is essential that you consult with your health care provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.