Erect perennial growing to 5 ft (1.5 m). Has tapering lance-shaped leaves and many white or purple florets.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to eastern North America, boneset is found in meadows and marshland. It is gathered when in flower in summer.
Boneset contains sesquiterpene lactones (including eupafolin), polysaccharides, flavonoids, diterpenes, sterols, and volatile oil. The sesquiterpene lactones and polysaccharides are significant immunostimulants.
History & Folklore
Native American people used boneset to make an infusion for treating colds, fever, and arthritic and rheumatic pain. European settlers learned of the plant’s benefits, and by the 18th and 19th centuries it was regarded as a virtual cure-all. Boneset’s common name derives from its ability to treat “break-bone fever.” Commonly used to treat malaria, constituents within boneset are now known to have antiprotozoal activity.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
A hot infusion of boneset will bring relief to symptoms of the common cold. The plant stimulates resistance to viral and bacterial infections, and reduces fever by encouraging sweating. Boneset also loosens phlegm and promotes its removal through coughing, and it has a tonic and laxative effect. It has been taken for rheumatic illness, skin conditions, and worms.
Wild horehound (E. teucrifolium) was used as a substitute for bone set. E. occidentale was used by the Zuni of the southwestern U.S. to treat rheumatism. See also hemp agrimony (E. cannabinum) and gravel root (E. purpureum).