Pleurisy Root: Nature's Cure-All For Respiratory Related Issues

If you are currently suffering from asthma, a bad cough, bronchitis or inflammation in the lungs, there is an herb that can help alleviate these conditions and it might not be one you’re familiar with — the Pleurisy root or Butterfly weed.

This herb has been used for centuries for a variety of health conditions, especially if they’re respiratory related. The roots of this plant were used in traditional medicine and were consumed as a food. Pleurisy was primarily used by Native Americans to treat a list of infections including influenza and swine flu.

Botanical Name and Family of Pleurisy Root

Pleurisy root is known botanically as Asclepias tuberosa. It belongs to the Asclepiadaceae or the milkweed family and is referred to as Canada Root, Flux Root and Orange Milkweed.

What Is Pleurisy Root?

Pleurisy Root: Nature's Cure-All For Respiratory Related Issues

Pleurisy is a perennial plant, a species of milkweed that grows in North America. The root of this plant has been used in traditional medicine. The Latin genus name of this plant is “Asclepias,” which is derived from the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, because of its value as a medicinal plant.

Pleurisy root was considered as a heal-all herb by the early European settlers in North American who learned of its abilities from the resident Native Americans. The Native American often used this root to make a body wash to enhance strength and endurance. In other cultures, it was even used as a ceremonial emetic and also praised as a highly valued root.

Pleurisy root was widely used as an herbal remedy for colds and as a natural treatment for influenza and fever management. It was also traditionally used to relieve respiratory congestion symptoms in conjunction with cayenne, Grindelia and lobelia. Since then, pleurisy has been used all over the world to treat ailments like pain, inflammation, diarrhea, dysentery and chronic rheumatism.

Active Ingredients Found in Pleurisy

Pleurisy root contains the following:

  • Cardenolides
  • Rutin
  • Quercetin
  • Estrogenic
  • alpha-amyrin
  • Beta-amyrin
  • Resins
  • Amino acids
  • Kaempferol
  • Lupeol

Health Benefits of Pleurisy Root

Traditionally, pleurisy root has been used to treat a cough and swelling of the air sacs within the lungs, airways and lung linings. It was used to treat uterine disorders, pain, muscle spasms and as an aid to promote sweating.

Pleurisy is also used for the following benefits:

Research suggests that this root acts as an antispasmodic, mildly cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, carminative, vasodilator, expectorant and tonic.

How to Use Pleurisy Root

Pleurisy root is used in the form of a tea or tinctures. The dosages depend on different factors like health, age, weight, etc., so it is recommended to talk to an herbal practitioner to determine the appropriate dosage for you.

Side Effects of Pleurisy Root

The benefits of this herb are noteworthy, but if used incorrectly, it can cause a variety of side effects as well. Pleurisy root may cause skin rash, nausea and vomiting. It is unsafe for pregnant women and persons with heart problems. 

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Abe F, Yamauchi T. Pregnane glycosides from the roots of Asclepias tuberosa. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2000 Jul;48(7):1017-22. PubMed PMID: 10923833.