Note the odd button-like
flowers, with barely visible petals.
Other Names Missouri snakeroot, Prairie-dock,
American feverfew, Parthenium
Wild Quinine is a perennial
native of Eastern N. America found growing in prairies, rock outcrops, waste places and
roadsides from Maryland to Minnesota and Georgia, as far west as Wisconsin and Arkansas.
Wild Quinine grows to a height of about three feet and has alternate,
long rough, hairy, serrated and lancolate, leaves that are often over a foot in length at
base. Leaves grow smaller and more sessile, as they ascend up the rough, round, stem,
which branches at the flowers top. The flowers bloom from June to Aug. they are small,
white and daisy-like, having 5 tiny white rays or petals and growing in numerous clusters,
appearing to be an unorganized umbelliferae. Wild Quinine has large, swollen, dark brown
roots it grows first vertically and then may expand horizontally. Collect flowering tops
and roots, dry for later herb use. Plant is not edible.
Wild Quinine is a very valuable
medicinal herb. It is used as an antiperiodic, emmenagogue, kidney, lithontripic, poultice.
It has traditionally been used in alternative medicine to treat
debility, fatigue, respiratory infection, gastrointestinal infection, and venereal
disease. Wild Quinine is currently being used with great success by hundreds of herbalists
throughout the United States and Europe for diseases such as lymphatic congestion, colds,
ear infections, sore throats, fevers, infections, and Epstein barr virus. The tops of the
plant have a medicinal "quinine-like" bitterness and are used to treat
intermittent fevers. This earned the plant one of its common names, "wild
quinine." Parthenium has been studied in scientific laboratories and clinics across
Europe. Findings from these studies indicate that this medicinal herb stimulates the
immune system. This herb also contains the four sesquiterpene esters which include:
echinadiol, epoxyecinadiol, echinaxanthol, and dihydroxynardol. These constituents
increase the ability of the blood cells to digest foreign particles and aid in the stages
of healing wounds in living organisms. It appears to be a liver-stimulating bitter that
promotes blood detoxification; thus the common name "snakeroot." Parthenium has
also been shown to both mobilize and activate natural killer cells and other immune cells.
Wild Quinine herb has been commonly sold as (or mixed with) Echinacea purpurea for more
than 50 years. They are both in the sunflower family and their roots bear an uncanny
resemblance to each other. Many people have been using these parthenium products, however,
and receiving benefits.
European settlers of the Midwestern
United States discovered this herb to be used for coughs and sore throats by the Native
Americans. The Catwbas tribe used its fresh leaves as a poultice on burns as well.
"Medicinal" tea: To 1 tsp. dried root add 8oz. boiling
water, steep 10 min. drink warm at bedtime.
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen
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