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Eupatorium perfoliatum


Eupatorium perfoliatum


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Thoroughwort, Indian Sage, Boneset, Ague weed, Crosswort


Eupatorium perfoliatum or thoroughwort is an important herb used in Native American medicine and also used in homeopathic medicine, where it was used in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1900. It was traditionally used for colds or influenza and to break fevers.

The slender, lance-shaped perfoliate leaves of E. perfoliatum make this 1m tall herb easily identifiable, as the elliptical leaves surround the densely pubescent stem. 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. Boneset 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. The plant is commonly thought of as a weed and is found near wetlands, near lakes and swamps thriving on moist, nutrient-rich soil.

Chemical Constituents

Eupatorin, astragalin, rutin, hyperoside, sesquiterpene lactones (eupafolin, euperfolitin, eufoliatin, eufoliatorin, euperfolide), heteroxylan polysaccharides, caffeic acid derivatives. [1],[2],[3]

Plant Part Used

Flowers, leaves

Medicinal Use




Immune Function

Anti parasitic




Most Frequently Reported Uses



Immune Function


Powdered herb: 12-20 grains

Extract: 2-4 grains

Infusion: Up to 8oz per day

Tincture: 2-4mL twice daily

Homeopathic medicines



In an effort to identify future candidates that would be useful as antimalarial 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. [4]


Studies have reviewed the role of E. perfoliatum in immune function. 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. [5]

In a laboratory setting, E. perfoliatum extract demonstrated cytotoxic activity comparable to chlorambucil and mild antibacterial activity. [6]


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. [7]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There is insufficient information available to determine potential interactions.

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

Read More

  1)  Native American Herbs


  1. Thomson Healthcare.  PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc; 2007.
  2. Maas M, Petereit F, Hensel A. Caffeic acid derivatives from Eupatorium perfoliatum L. Molecules. 23 Dec 2008;14(1):36-45.
  3. Herz W, Kalyanaraman PS, Ramakrishnan G.Sesquiterpene lactones of Eupatorium perfoliatum. J Org Chem. 24 Jun 1977;42(13):2264-2271.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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