Wood Boneset, Thoroughwort, Sweating Plant, Thorough-Stem, Teasel, Agueweed, Thorough-wax, Feverwort, Wild Isaac, Crosswort, Vegetable Antimony, Indian Sage, Tearal, Wild Sage, Joe Pye Weed
Eastern United States, Canada
Boneset has a long and colourful history and a slightly misleading name. Not to be confused with Comfrey (which is sometimes referred to as Boneset), this herb takes its name from a particularly virulent strain of flu that was known as “Breakbone Fever”. Now known as “Dengue Fever”, the pain in the bones was so intense it was likened to that of a broken bone, and Boneset was used to bring considerable relief.
Indigenous to the Eastern United States and Canada, Boneset was introduced to the colonists by the Native American Indians. It was also used traditionally for colds, all kinds of fevers, malaria and typhoid. One Native American named Joe Pye became so renowned for curing typhoid with Boneset that the herb was nicknamed “Joe Pye Weed”.
According to Mark Pedersen, a research chemist who specializes in herbal chemistry, Boneset is one of the most versatile plants on Earth. He believes that no one phytochemical is responsible for the action of Boneset, rather it is the symbiosis of all of the plants constituents that produce its remarkable effects. His research shows that in virtually every instance where there is inflammation or infection, Boneset has proven itself most effective.
Boneset has been shown to contain antiviral properties and strengthens the immune system by enhancing the secretion of interferon. Interferon belongs to the large class of proteins known as cytokines - molecules used for communication between cells to trigger the protective defences of the immune system that help eradicate pathogens. Interferons are named for their ability to "interfere" with viral replication by protecting cells from virus infections. Other studies have found Boneset effective against minor viral and bacterial infections by stimulating the white blood cells.
Studies indicate that Boneset’s immunostimulating properties are due to the presence of sesquiterpene lactones and polysaccharides in the plant.
Whilst a high temperature or fever is a natural healing process in the body, over a certain temperature it can become dangerous and even life threatening. A powerful diaphoretic, the most famous use of Boneset is as a fever reducer. Best taken in a hot infusion, Boneset promotes a therapeutic sweat in fevers. It contains flavonoids and essential oils that stimulate the peripheral circulation and by encouraging sweating, it forces the body to not only cool down but to also release several harmful toxins through the skin.
The immunostimulating and fever reducing properties of Boneset make this herb perfect to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu. Boneset is also an excellent expectorant, able to loosen phlegm and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Research shows that the sequiterpene lactones found in Boneset stimulate deficient digestive enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulate bile flow in the liver. It also has a mild laxative effect, allowing waste to move through the body more easily. In larger doses it can expel parasites; however it is recommended to consult a herbalist before using this herb in large doses.
Boneset Tincture can be added to water or fruit juice and taken when required.
Traditionally Taken: 2-3ml taken 2-3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.
Boneset can be made into a tea by infusing the loose herb with boiling water and steeping for 5 - 10 minutes. Boneset is a bitter herb and a dollop of honey or another natural sweetener is recommended.
Whilst most of the folklore surrounding Boneset is concentrated in North America and Canada, it also has a history in far away Asia Minor stretching back to 100 BCE.
Tucked away in the annals of history there is the tale of Mithridates Eupator, the king of Pontus in Asia Minor from 120 to 63 BCE. Having to flee his murderous mother, he went into exile in the wilderness where he purposefully consumed small amounts of poisonous plants to build up his immunity. One of the plants he was supposed to have ingested was from the genus that now bears his name, Eupatorium, of which common Boneset is but one of 200 species. Legend has it that after fighting the three Mithridatic wars and being conquered by Pompey the Great, a humiliated Mithridates tried to commit suicide with poison, but could not because he’d succeeded in building up his immunity so well! In the event, he had to ask a soldier to run him through with a sword.
Boneset contains; polysaccharides, flavonoids (including quercetin), diterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, sesquiterpene lactones (including eupafolin), vitamins and minerals (especially magnesium, calcium, niacin, and phosphorus).
Breastfeeding and pregnant women should not use Boneset.
Boneset should not be used on a long term basis (no longer than 6 months at a time).
People with liver damage should not use Boneset.
If you are taking any prescription medications, please consult your healthcare professional before using Boneset.