Pleurisy Root or Butterfly Weed
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(commonly known as Butterfly Weed)
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Botanical:  Asclepias tuberosa (also known as Aesclepias tuberosa)
Family:  Apocynaceae (dogbane) - formerly Asclepiadaceae (milkweed)
Other common names:  Butterfly Weed, Silkweed, Flux Root, Tuber Root, White Root,
Wind Root,

Canada Root, Orange Swallow Wort, Orange Milkweed, Colic Root, Swallow Wort

Pleurisy Root is considered an herbal cold remedy and one of the finest plant expectorants that has been used to ease pleurisy, pneumonia and other pulmonary and respiratory ailments.  It also has been used to promote sweating, which will help to cool the body and reduce eruptive and burning fevers.

The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Pleurisy Root is an herbaceous milkweed that is native to North America, and unlike other milkweeds, it does not produce a milky, latex-like sap.  It is a handsome, fleshy-rooted perennial that may grow to a height of three feet and bears beautiful clusters of deep yellow and orange flowers.  The plant is sensitive and difficult to establish and thrives in dry, sandy, neutral-to-acid soil in full sun, but when cultivated, Pleurisy Root does not like to be disturbed and prefers good peat soil.  It is considered rare and protected in some states.  Pleurisy Root is an important nectar source for bees and other insects and a larval food source for Monarch Butterflies, thereby giving rise to one of its common names, Butterfly Weed.  The seed pods in the plant contain soft filaments that are known as "silk," which suggests another of its common names, Silkweed, and this material is considered a fine insulation that may be superior to down feathers.  Its botanical genus, Asclepias (sometimes spelled Aesclepias) is derived from the Greek god of healing, Aesclepius, because of the plant's many medicinal applications; and the name, Pleurisy Root, is an obvious reference to its historical use to treat pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments.  Early Western tribes enjoyed the high dextrose content in Pleurisy Root as a natural sweetener, and Canadian tribes considered it a fine vegetable for the pot.  The Natchez people employed Pleurisy Root as a remedy for pneumonia, and the Catawbas used it for dysentery.  It is interesting to note that Native Americans used Pleurisy Root in their medicines (mostly for lung ailments) for over one thousand years before the herb entered European pharmacopoeias of the eighteenth century or was listed in the United States Pharmacopœia  in the nineteenth century (1820-1920). It is a bitter, acrid, nutty-flavored tonic herb, and its dried roots are used in herbal medicine.  Some of the constituents in Pleurisy Root include alpha- and beta-amyrin, resins, amino acids, volatile oil, flavonoids (rutin and quercetin), glucosidal principal (asclepiadin), kaempferol and lupeol.

Beneficial Uses:
Pleurisy Root, as its name suggests, has been a very valuable herb in the treatment of pleurisy.  It not only eases the pain associated with the illness (which helps to make breathing easier), but most importantly, it is also considered an effective herbal expectorant that encourages, loosens and removes phlegm from the respiratory tract.  The herb is said to reduce inflammation of the pleural membranes of the lungs, enhance secretion of healthy lung fluids and stimulate the lymphatic system. Its specific action on the pulmonary and respiratory system is said to help break up colds, ease consumption, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, dry cough, clogged nasal passages, catarrhal affections of the lungs and throat and virtually all bronchial complaints.

Pleurisy Root is thought to be good for the digestive system, although not often used for this purpose. It has been used to relieve indigestion and a "gassy stomach" and for flatulent colic.

As a diaphoretic, Pleurisy Root is said to promote perspiration and sweating, and herbalists have used it to cool the body and reduce fevers.  It has been utilized to ease the feverish stages of colds and flu, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, bilious fever, low typhoid states, measles and other eruptive and burning fevers.

Several of Pleurisy Root's historical applications have included treatment for dysentery and diarrhea, and it has also been called an effective antispasmodic that can ease the pain associated with difficult menstrual cycles.

Pregnant and nursing women should not use Pleurisy Root Herbal Supplement; it is a uterine stimulant.  Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may cause diarrhea and vomiting.  Do not use in conjunction with prescription heart medication; it may interfere with meds used to control heart rhythm (Digoxin/Lanoxin).

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