boneset Boneset

Boneset| Eupatorium perfoliatum

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include boneset, feverwort, Joe Pye weed, Indian sage, ague weed, thoroughwort.


Boneset is a native of North America and is a long time favourite of native Americans for use in all kinds of fevers and as a remedy for bone mending, hence it common names. It is found growing in marshy ground, near water, in watery meadows or wet patches of woodland.


It is a perennial herb (member of the Compositeae/Asteraceae family) that reaches up to 1.5 metres in height with long slender leaves (up to 8 inches long!) and white flower clusters. The upper leaves can join together in a really interesting manner.


Boneset dried plant and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.







harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The whole of the above ground portion of the plant is harvested when the flowers are just opening in July/October and allowed to dry out gently in a warm, airy place.



Boneset dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.



therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Boneset has a very bitter taste (I can barely drink it!) so is often combined with a touch of honey or more pleasant tasting herbs to improve the taste of the tea. It is rich in valuable nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and niacin (vitamin B3) amongst many other. It is regarded as a prime bitter tonic herb.


It is arguably one of the best herbs for the relief of fevers, cold and influenza, glandular fever, tonsillitis and induces sweating and therefore lowers temperature and eases chills. It is powerful enough to tackle even severe influenza strains and it would be in any formula of mine today for the more modern strains of influenza such as bird flu and swine flu and for the new respiratory infections such as MERS and similar. It has in the past been used as a remedy for malaria and yellow fever.


Boneset is well known to herbalists as an immune stimulant and can be taken at the first signs of infection, during the acute phase of infection and to help with infection that lingers and refuses to go away.


It helps to heal bone fractures and breaks, bone pain and inflammation, helps in rickets, growing pains in children (sweeten with honey and add a more pleasant tasting herb such as peppermint), bruises and inflammation. It will also help in cases of backache and spondylosis and is useful for maintaining healthy joints and helping to heal the damage from dislocations. Use the leaves either fresh (crush and bruise them first) or as a poultice or make a strong tea and apply the wet leaves as a poultice for broken bones, fractures, sprains, strains and dislocations etc. Would be of benefit to any tea mix for osteoporosis or dropping bone density too.


 Also eases muscle tension and spasm. It can help with tense, tired or weak muscles.


Boneset relaxes the peripheral blood vessels, encouraging blood flow to the extremities and to the skin. This coupled with its ability to open the pores of the skin make it useful for many skin conditions such as acne (especially if caused by digestive, liver or gallbladder disorders), either as a tea or soothing poultice. Even though it promotes sweating when taken hot, it can also help to control excessive sweating in those prone to it. Perhaps it does this by making the body sweat and eliminate toxins more efficiently and effectively.

Conditions such as rheumatism and any conditions that are exacerbated by damp are also helped by boneset. The famous herbalist Dr Christopher says about boneset and rheumatism...."given in small tonic doses, this is one of the best known remedies for this problem". It could also be part of a formula in the treatment of arthritis. When damp and cold cause muscle pains or stiffness


Boneset has a great track record for treating coughs and upper respiratory conditions such as allergies, bronchitis, mucous congestion, catarrh and is an all round decongestant. It is certainly worth trying in more serious conditions such as tuberculosis, pleurisy or pneumonia also.


Its bitter component stimulates peristalsis and can help in digestive disorders and in promoting healthy digestion as well as conditions such as jaundice, constipation and is considered a tonic to the stomach, intestines and bowel. It can aslo help with dysentery and typhoid fevers.


As a poultice or tea it can prove very useful in skin complaints, especially those that accompany infections such as chicken pox, scarlet fever, measles and similar. The cleansing and pore opening sweat arising form drinking the hot tea makes it useful for boils, cysts and pimples.


It is reputed to have an anti-tumour and anti-cancer action.


In Chinese medicine it is used for heatstroke.


The homoeopathic version of boneset is used in the prevention and symptomatic treatment of dengue fever.


Medicinal actions include bitter tonic, dilates peripheral blood vessels, gentle laxative, lowers fevers, antispasmodic, induces perspiration, decongestant, mucous membrane tonic, diuretic (increases flow of urine), stimulates bile flow.


 Here is an excellent and informative monograph on Boneset.



dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Do not use for more than 2 weeks at a time with a few weeks break in between, not suitable for long term regular use.

* Boneset is laxative and emetic (promotes vomiting) in large doses (i.e. when you take more than the therapeutic dose stated below).

* Some forms of Eupatorium are known to contain certain alkaloids which can be harmful to the liver in prolonged doses. Boneset however is not thought to contain these alkaloids. To be cautious, use only when needed and not on a daily basis, long term.

* It is not suitable to use during pregnancy or breast feeding.
* Boneset also works well as a poultice for bone aches and pains, fractures and bruising.
* Boneset combines well with yarrow, elderflower and peppermint for use in colds, flu and fevers to lower temperature, ease bone pain, shivers and to speed up healing.
* Take as a hot tea to bring on a sweat and lower temperatures or break a fever.
* Drink the tea cold for a more tonic action and mild laxative effect.


Tincture: 1-4 ml in a little water, 3 times daily.

Dried herb in tea form: 1 heaped teaspoon per cup, 3 times daily.


Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.








Child watering plants




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