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Asclepias tuberosa


Asclepias tuberosa


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Swallow Wort, tuber root, chigger flower, windroot, butterfly weed.


Although this plant historically has been used in many cultures, Asclepias tuberose is no longer recommended due to the uterine and cardiac stimulating properties. A. tuberose is not allowed in any products in Canada. [1] It is included here due to its use in Native American medicine.

The herb of A. tuberose grows to a height of 1m, yielding narrow, lance-shaped, glabrous leaves, purplish, pubescent stems and crowns of brilliant orange flower clusters. The flower clusters, located at the apex of the stem, range from 5-15cm across and can consist of dozens of tiny flowers.

Origin / Habitat

A. tuberose, or Swallow Wort, is a flowering perennial herb of the milkweed family found native to North America. Flourishing in the southeast quadrant of the continent, Swallow Wort grows best in sandy soils with low to moderate moisture.

Chemical Constituents

Cardenolide glycosides, pregnane glycosides and lineolon glycosides. Other glycosides include ikemagenin, pleurogenin, and ascandroside. [2],[3]

Plant Part Used

Root [1]

Medicinal Uses









Most Frequently Reported Uses





Dosage Range 

Infusion: 1- 2 teaspoon in 1 cup of boiling water, 4-6 times per day.

Most Common Dosage 

Two cups of infusion daily



Historical use indicates that A. tuberose acts as a diaphoretic, expectorant and antispasmodic. [4] However none of these uses has been evaluated in a clinical setting and no laboratory analysis is available to provide verification.

A. tuberose contains cardiac glycosides, a limited group that has a narrow margin of safety, but which may also provide sufficient benefits such as increased functional ability and a decrease in functional limitations. [5]


At this time, there are not any clinical studies on A. tuberose.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There are no reported interactions with prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Since there is limited information on the pharmacology of this herb, other than that which is identified in traditional use, the use of A. tuberose is not recommended unless under the guidance of a trained professional.

Not to be used by those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or at a risk for stroke and not to be used in combination with medications for these conditions.


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) Native American Herbs


  1. McGuffin M, et al. Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press;2003.
  2. Abe F, Yamauchi T.An androstane bioside and 3'-thiazolidinone derivatives of doubly-linked cardenolide glycosides from the roots of Asclepias tuberosa. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jul 2000;48(7):991-993.
  3. Abe F, Yamauchi T.Pregnane glycosides from the roots of Asclepias tuberosa. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jul 2000;48(7):1017-1022.
  4. Ebadi M.Pharmacodynamics of Herbal Medicines. NY: CRC Press; 2001.43.
  5. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy: Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants.2nd Ed. FR: Lavoisier Publishing; 1992.722.

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