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Eupatorium perfoliatum


Eupatorium perfoliatum


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Boneset, agueweed, feverwort.


The slender, lance-shaped perfoliate leaves of Eupatorium perfoliatum make this 1m tall herb easily identifiable, as the densely pubescent stem is surrounded by the elliptical leaves. Between the months of July to October, the stem branches and yields floral clusters of small white heads at the top of the plant.  The flowers give off a slightly aromatic odor, and the taste has been classified as strongly bitter.  E. perfoliatum grows best in rich, moist soils at lower elevations and often is found growing near Phalaris arundinacea. 

Origin / Habitat

E. perfoliatum is a perennial herb found native to the eastern half of North America, ranging from Nova Scotia to Florida; from Texas to North Dakota.

Chemical Constituents

Eupatorin, astragalin, rutin, hyperoside, sesquiterpene lactones (eupafolin, euperfolitin, eufoliatin, eufoliatorin, euperfolide), heteroxylan polysaccharides, caffeic acid derivitives. (2),(3),(4)

Plant Part Used

Flower, leaves.(1)

Traditional Use

Perhaps the most common usage of E. perfoliatum by Native American medical practitioners is that of a diaphoretic, especially in treating fever, colds and cough.(1) A warm infusion, usually made from the flowers, is administered, often as hot as the patient can handle, in order induce heavy sweating and thus reduce the fever. The infusion of the plant is also given in order to alleviate cough, sore throat and cold symptoms.

The leaves of E. perfoliatum have been used topically to assist in healing broken bones, indicative of the origin of the common name “Boneset”. Both the Abenaki(5) and Iroquois(6) use the fresh leaves or a poultice, respectively, to decrease recovery time when bones are broken. External preparations were also made for treating cuts and bruises.(7)

In larger doses, E. perfoliatum has been used as an emetic.(5) These larger dosages result in both vomiting, and evacuation of the bowels, therefore presumably removing the cause of gastrointestinal distress from the body.(1) Additionally, several Native American tribes have identified E. perfoliatum as having an analgesic activity and therefore effective for many types of pain, including gastrointestinal discomfort. An infusion of the plant was thought to relieve pain from the kidneys and the liver as well.(5) Both internal and external applications of E. perfoliatum have been used by various Native American tribes as a treatment for the pain of rheumatism.(1),(5)

E. perfoliatum also played a significant role in sacred ceremonies of several Native American tribes.(7)


Dosages will vary by tribe, indication and specific preparation.

Powdered herb- 12-20 grains.

Extract- 2-4 grains.

Infusion- Up to 8oz per day.(1)



E. perfoliatum is currently found as a homeopathic remedy. In a controlled trial of 53 patients suffering from the cold virus, the experimental group was treated with the homeopathic preparation of E. perfoliatum and the control group with acetylsalicylic acid. All parameters measured were comparable in both groups.(8)

In an effort to identify future candidates that would be useful as anti-malarial agents, researchers examined the effectiveness of a homeopathic preparation of E. perfoliatum as a candidate for an anti-malarial drug. The preparation demonstrated significant inhibitory effect on parasite multiplication.(9)


Studies have reviewed the role of E. perfoliatum in immune function. In in vitro and in vivo settings, extracts of E. perfoliatum were compared to extracts of Echinacea angustifolia and two additional extracts. E. perfoliatum demonstrated stimulation of phagocytosis at 50% higher rate than Echinacea.(10)

In a laboratory setting, E. perfoliatum extract demonstrated cytotoxic activity comparable to chlorambucil and mild antibacterial activity.(11)


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

There is no evidence in the literature to suggest that E. perfoliatum is unsafe. However, in large doses, it is emetic and caution should be used.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used by children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1)  Western Herbs


  1. Hutchens, A. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston, MA:  Shambala; 1991.
  2. Thomson Healthcare. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc; 2007.
  3. Maas M, Petereit F, Hensel A. Caffeic acid derivatives from Eupatorium perfoliatum L. Molecules. Dec. 23, 2008;14(1): 36-45.
  4. Herz W, Kalyanaraman PS, Ramakrishnan G. Sesquiterpene lactones of Eupatorium perfoliatum. J Org Chem. Jun. 24, 1977;42(13): 2264-2271.
  5. Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.
  6. Austin DF. Florida Ethnobotany. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2004.
  7. Kavasch EB, Baar K. Native Indian Healing Arts. NY: Bantum Press; 1997.
  8. Gassinger CA, Wünstel G, Netter P. A controlled clinical trial for testing the efficacy of the homeopathic drug eupatorium perfoliatum D2 in the treatment of common cold. Arzneimittelforschung. 1981;31(4):732-736.
  9. Lira-Salazar G, Marines-Montiel E, Torres-Monzón J, Hernández-Hernández F, Salas-Benito JS. Effects of homeopathic medications Eupatorium perfoliatum and Arsenicum album on parasitemia of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice. Homeopathy. Oct. 2006;95(4):223-228.
  10. Wagner H, Jurcic K. Immunologic studies of plant combination preparations. In-vitro and in-vivo studies on the stimulation of phagocytosis. Arzneimittelforschung. Oct. 1991;41(10):1072-1076.
  11. Habtemariam S, Macpherson AM. Cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity of ethanol extract from leaves of a herbal drug, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Phytother Res. Nov. 2000;14(7):575-577.

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