Queen's delight (botanical name, Stillingia sylvatica) is a perennial herb that grows up to a height of four feet. This herb, belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae, bears egg-shaped, rubbery leaves that grow alternately and measure about one to three inches in length. The leaves of queen's delight are jagged at the periphery and are almost without stalks. The herb bears yellow blooms during the period between March and August or throughout the year in places having warm climatic conditions. The flowers do not have any petals and emerge in thick terminal spikes. Interestingly, the male queen's delight blooms on the upper portion of the spikes, while the female flowers appear along the lower part of the spikes.
Queen's delight is indigenous to the vast regions of southern United States and there was a time when it was a very popular herbal medicine among the European settlers in this area. These European settlers maintained that the roots of queen's delight possessed several therapeutic properties and used them in the form of a laxative, an expectorant (to draw out phlegm), an emetic (to promote vomiting), and a supposed blood cleanser as well as to treat the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis.
However, it is unfortunate that herbal medical practitioners discovered that in order to be effective, it is essential for queen's delight to be fresh. Later, herbalists as well as doctors came to the conclusion that the herb was especially consistent for its emetic or laxative attributes, which was present in several other plants. However, hardly any plant afforded cure for syphilis, treatment for which did not exist till then. Many contemporary herbalists prescribe queen's delight for 'purifying' the circulation system as well as bringing back to normal functioning. However, a different herbal indication for queen's delight is as an empiric (quack) - a medication whose effectiveness is unsure.
Queen's delight has a number of therapeutic uses. This herb seems to encourage detoxification in general. The herb is taken internally in order to facilitate easing boils, constipation, weeping eczema and scrofula (tubercular contagion of the lymph glands of the neck). The freshly obtained root of queen's delight is also taken internally to treat respiratory tract conditions, such as throat infection, bronchitis and laryngitis. Topically, this herb is applied as a lotion to hemorrhoids as well as to skin conditions accompanied with itching, for instance psoriasis and eczema.
Use of queen's root encourages secretions by the mucous membranes as well as removal of catabolic wastes. This herb is recommended for treating laryngitis, tonsillitis, mastitis (inflammation of the breast), croup (a condition of larynx marked by hoarse voice), persistent rheumatism and congested lymphatic system. It has been found that an alcoholic extract of queen's delight root helps to lessen growth of tumours in mice having RC mammary carcinoma transplants.
During the 20th century, queen's delight turned out to be the 'optional' choice as a remedy for restoring health gradually. Going by the history, there was a time when queen's delight was believed to be a dependable remedy for syphilis. A decoction prepared with the root of the herb was used to cure persistent pain as well as ulceration following mercurial treatment. However, the fact remains that queen's delight is not an effective remedy for syphilis. Earlier, in the 19th century, physicians of the American Eclectic used the herb to treat tuberculosis as well as cancer and other medical conditions for which it was possible to recommend substitute medications. Although queen's delight is thought to be a very useful remedy for purifying the blood, it works best when used in small doses and generally combined with additional herbs like prickly ash bark - a diaphoretic (a medicine that facilitates in getting rid of toxins by means of inducing sweating).
Chemical analysis of queen's delight has revealed that the herb encloses starch, a volatile oil, tannins, acrid fixed oil, and acrid resin known as sylvacrol, gum, cyanogenic glycosides and additional resins / saps. Queen's delight is highly prized in treating persistent skin disorders, for instance psoriasis and eczema. It may be noted that queen's delight is particularly recommended for treating conditions involving lymphatic conditions. In this case, the treatment with this herb may be for a reasonably long period. In addition, queen's delight is also employed by herbal medicine practitioners to treat conditions of the respiratory tract, such as laryngitis and bronchial congestion, particularly when they occur along with voice loss and laryngismus stridulus (abrupt spasm of the larynx, occasionally known as spasmodic croup). Queen's delight may also be used in the treatment of croup, wherein the cough is harsh, as this herb facilitates in stimulating the flow of saliva. This herb also helps in providing relief from constipation. As queen's delight is considered to possess astringent properties, it is known to be particularly helpful in treating hemorrhoids. Traditionally, the herb was believed to be effective in treating the body's fluid imbalance, counting blood, lymph and bile.
Queen's delight is indigenous to vast areas in the southern United States and the herb is found growing from Virginia south to Florida plus Texas and westwards to south-eastern Colorado.
This herb has a preference for sandy (light), medium (loamy) and clay (heavy) soils. Queen's delight also has a preference for basic (alkaline), neutral and acidic soils. This plant has the aptitude to grow in partial shade (light forests) or in light. It needs a damp soil to thrive.
Queen's delight can be taken in different forms - as a decoction and a tincture.
Decoction: To prepare the decoction, add half to one teaspoonful of the dehydrated queen's delight root in a cup (250 ml) of water and boil the mixture. The mixture should be simmered slowly for about 10 to 15 minutes and strained. For best results, take the decoction thrice every day.
Tincture: The tincture prepared with queen's delight root ought to be taken in dosage of 1 ml to 2 ml three times every day.
People using herbal remedies prepared with queen's delight should be cautious, as the fresh plant has the potential to be noxious when used in large doses internally. The toxic symptoms produced by this herb may include vomiting, gastroenteritis, bile-filled diarrhea, tachycardia (excessively fast heartbeat), prostration and muscular debility. This herb should never be given to pregnant women. In addition, taking excessive doses of queen's delight may cause irritation to the skin as well as the mucous membranes. In effect, queen's delight is a potent sternutatory (a substance that causes sneezing) herb. In addition, this herb may also prove to be cathartic (purgative) and emetic (any medical substance that induces vomiting) and, hence, should be used with caution all the time. Here is a word of caution: queen's delight herb should never be preserved for over two years.
Queen's delight root, which possesses therapeutic properties, is excavated soon after the flowering season ends.
Queen's delight is an excellent remedy for skin complaints. To treat skin problems, this herb is combined with yellow dock, burdock, blue flag, cleavers, sweet woodruff and fumitory - all of these blend well with queen's delight. In addition, queen's delight may also be employed with other herbs: bloodroot, lobelia, eucalyptus and anise to treat bronchitis and laryngismus stridulus (an unexpected attack of the larynx specially occurring in children).