Eupatorium perfoliatum

Herbs gallery - Boneset

Common names

  • Agueweed
  • Boneset
  • Crosswort
  • Eupatorium
  • Feverwort
  • Indian Sage
  • Sweating Plant
  • Thoroughwort
  • Tse-Ian
  • Vegetable Antimony
  • Wood Boneset

It is true that very often the names of different plants disclose substantial information regarding them. However, at times, such information may well be deceptive. However, there is no such problem with the botanical name of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum L.).

The genus name of this particular species, which belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) has been drawn from Mithridates Eupator, a prehistoric king of Pontus, who was the first individual to employ a very close relative of this species for therapeutic reasons.

The species description, perfoliatum, actually denotes the way in which the hair covered straight stem of the tough perennially growing herb that grows up to a height of approximately five feet and possesses a crown of white hued tubular florets, come into view to pierce the middle part of the pairs of joined leaves that emerge opposite to each other on the stem.

The common name of the herb, boneset, is liable to lead an individual further off track as the herb was traditionally used to cure fevers and never to repair the fractured bones. Nevertheless, the reason behind boneset being the common name of the herb becomes obvious when you know that in earlier days dengue was known as the break bone fever.

The use of boneset leaves as well as the plant's flowering tops for therapeutic purpose was first introduced to the early European settlers by the Native Indians in American Indians.

They generally used the herb for curing health conditions, such as influenza, colds, catarrh, all types of fevers (counting dengue), rheumatism, typhoid (lake) and even sporadic outbreaks of malaria. In order to cure colds and flu, the remedy prepared with boneset leaves and flowering tops is taken as a hot tea to encourage perspiration as well as alleviate the related aches and soreness.

To cure lack of hunger, digestive disorders and also in the form of a common astringent tonic, it is recommended that you take an infusion of cold boneset about 30 minutes prior to taking your meals. In both these instances, this herbal medication is bitter and acerbic having a sickening flavor. In comparison to the cold boneset infusion, taking the hot infusion prepared with the herb is expected to result in vomiting.

Chemical analysis of boneset has helped to identify a number of elements enclosed by the herb, such as sterols, a variety of flavonoid pigments and triterpenes. However, it has been found that amalgams having distinct remedial properties are usually absent in boneset.

It has been documented that xyloglucurans obtained from the polysaccharide parts of fluid extracts of boneset augmented phagocytosis by an element of 1 to 2.5 in granulocyte test and carbon clearance, indicating the immune-stimulant property of this herb.

Eclectic medical practitioners have also reported that they have employed boneset in the form of an effectual defensive as well as curative for the 'Spanish influenza' outbreak in 1918, in addition to flu pandemics during the 19th century.

Boneset enjoyed the status of official medication in the United States between the period of 1820 and 1950, although the herb was seldom approved by medical practitioners, especially during the concluding phase of this period mentioned.

Nonetheless, presently there is a resurgence of interest in the boneset's use among advocates of herbal medicine, who mainly use this herb to alleviate fevers. While there are certainly safer as well as more effectual treatments, for instance aspirin, it is tackling to learn that the medical literature is necessarily lacking in undesirable incidents or side effects related to the use of boneset.

Considering the existence of latent immune-stimulant polysaccharides, together with past details of effectiveness in preventing as well as treating influenza in the 19th as well as the early 20th centuries, this herb had actually been downgrade to historical shadows, now be worthy of a more methodical research.

Boneset is well-known among both the native Indian Americans as well as the early European settlers for its ability to induce abundant sweating and also to release the bowels. These people used the herb to alleviate fevers related to several ailments, counting colds and flu. In addition, boneset was also used by the Indians and also the

European settlers to treat malaria and other comparable recurring ailments. Typically, boneset was taken in the form of a hot herbal tea prepared with the leaves and flowers of the herb.

In general, E. purpureum, a species related to boneset and universally called joe-pye weed shares the therapeutic attributes possessed by boneset. Joe-pye weed can be recognized by its purple hued blooms. This species derives its name from an Indian medicine practitioner.

In fact, this Indian medicine practitioner, who was reputed throughout New England for using this herb to treat typhus, has been honoured by using his name to classify joe-pye weed. Nevertheless, majority of people who are authorities in herbal medicine, believe that compared to boneset, joe-pye weed (E. purpureum) is less effective in curing fevers.

Parts used

Aerial parts.


Boneset, especially the leaves and the flowering tops of the herb, possesses several properties that are beneficial for our body. Drinking a hot infusion prepared with boneset eases the symptoms of fever as it stimulates perspiration. In addition, boneset also releases phlegm and encourages its elimination by means of coughing.

In effect, boneset possesses a purgative as well as stimulant effect. Boneset has also been used to treat health conditions, such as skin complaints, rheumatic ailments and worms.

As aforementioned, boneset possesses laxative, tonic and febrifuge (a medicine that reduces fevers) properties. Boneset works gradually and continually and the greatest strength of this herb is apparent on the stomach, liver, uterus and bowels.

When taken in reasonable measures, boneset is considered to be a gentle stimulant, in addition to being a diaphoretic (an agent that encourages sweating), particularly when it is taken in the form of a warm infusion. Warm boneset infusion is also taken to cure muscular spasms in rheumatic attacks. When taken in large amounts, boneset is emetic (a medical agent that causes vomiting) as well as a laxative.

This herb has been valued in the form of a well-accepted febrifuge (a medical agent that reduces fever), particularly sporadic fevers. Although with comparatively less success, boneset has also been used for treating yellow fevers and typhoid.

Even to this day, boneset is widely employed by the Negroes inhabiting the southern regions of the United States in the form of a medication for treating all types of fevers, in addition to, the herb's stimulant attribute. Boneset is used in the form of an effective medication to cure dyspepsia (indigestion) as well as common weakness, and it is especially effective in treating digestive disorders among the elderly.

It is recommended that you take one ounce of boneset infusion prepared using the dehydrated herb and one pint of steaming water either warm or cold for treating colds as well as to stimulate sweating. This infusion is given in the hot form to reduce fevers, while the cold infusion is effective as a tonic.

Boneset is an effective medication for treating catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, particularly of the respiratory tract), especially when one is suffering from influenza.

In fact, the infusion prepared with boneset has been employed widely and with the best endeavours - often given warm in measures of a wineglass at intervals of 30 minutes, while the patient is bed ridden all the time. When the medication has been given four to five dosages, abundant sweating occurs and the patient feels relieved.

As mentioned before, it has been said that the common name of the herb, boneset, has been derived from the effectiveness of this herb in curing influenza, which was prevalent in the United States at one point of time.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

Boneset is indigenous to the eastern regions of North America and is found growing naturally in pastures and marshy lands. The herb needs to be collected when it is in full bloom during summer.


Researches undertaken in recent times employing homeopathic methodology have demonstrated that when mice infested with malaria are given boneset extracts, they show a considerable decline in the multiplication rate of the Plasmodium parasite.

However, one recent study failed to detect a method of action in this case, but the authors of the study concluded that Eupatorium perfoliatum or boneset may possibly be an excellent alternate remedy or supporting medicine in treating malaria.

Additional studies have demonstrated that the sequiterpene lactones that are isolated from boneset possess cytotoxic as well as anti-tumour attributes.

One such study has discovered an Eupatorium perfoliatum extract that has elevated cytotoxic actions, something akin to chlorambucil - a normal cytotoxic agent. In addition, this extract has also demonstrated feeble anti-bacterial actions in opposition to gram positive test organisms (bacteria that keep hold of the violet dye when tinged by Gram's Method).

Yet one more study determined the levels of cytokine in stimulated white blood cells obtained from 23 patients suffering from tumours. During the course of the study, these patients had to undergo a four-week oral therapy using spagyric extract from Eupatorium perfoliatum, Thuja occidentalis and Echinacea angustifolia.

Following the treatment with amalgam, there was no noteworthy change in cytokine production compared to the controls. In effect, it was found that the complex did not have any noticeable outcome on the activity of lymphocyte and it was considered to be a non-effectual therapy at that particular application as well as dose.

Hence, it is felt that further research needs to be undertaken vis-à-vis the anti-tumour and cytotoxic attributes of Eupatorium perfoliatum.

To put it briefly, the limited research undertaken till today indicates that treatment with boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum L.) may possibly possess several useful consequences, for instance, combating cold and flu, curing malaria, perking up the immune system and also some influence in lessening tumour growth.

Nevertheless, further studies are necessary with a view to decide on the means by which such useful outcomes take place. By undertaking more researches, we may be enhancing the treatment of several contagious ailments in a great manner.

In the present day medicine, using boneset especially in the areas of treating colds, flu, skin, malaria, bones as well as tumours shows immense potential. Nevertheless, studies enabling a person to come to a concrete conclusion related to the effectiveness of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum L.) are absent till this day.


Chemical analysis of boneset has revealed that the herb encloses sesquiterpene lactones (counting eupafolin), flavonoids, polysaccharides, sterols and as well as a volatile oil. It may be noted that the polysaccharides and sesquiterpene lactones present in boneset possess significant immune-stimulant properties.

Usual dosage

Boneset is taken in the form of an infusion as well as a tincture.

Infusion: To prepare a boneset infusion, add one to two teaspoonfuls of the dehydrated herb to a cup (250 ml) of boiling water and allow it to permeate for about 10 to 15 minutes. For best results, drink this infusion as hot as you can. The infusion should be drunk at intervals of 30 minutes to treat flu or any other type of fevers.

Tincture: For optimum results, the boneset tincture should be taken in dosages of 2 ml to 4 ml at least thrice every day.


From John Burket
My wife and I took boneset and suma root together to immediately arrest the onset of the flu.
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