Pleurisy Root (Xiong Moyan Gen)
Botanical Name: Asclepiadis tuberosa
Considered one of the best herbal expectorants available, pleurisy root has a long history of use by the American Indians prior to its discovery by early U.S. medical botanists. It is excellent for treating chest complaints, difficulty breathing, consumption, pneumonia, and is also good for treating diarrhea and dysentery.
Below is an overview of Pleurisy Root (Xiong Moyan Gen), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Pleurisy Root (Xiong Moyan Gen).
Western Name: Pleurisy Root
Also Known As: Butterfly Weed, Chigger Flower, Fluxroot, Indian Posy, White-root, Orange milkweed, Wind Root
Organs/Systems: Lungs, Heart, Stomach, Intestines, Kidney, Uterus
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Expectorant, Antispasmodic, Emetic, Mildly Cathartic, Antitussive, Diaphoretic, Carminative, Tonic. Considered one of the best herbs for promoting expectoration in chronic, deep stubborn cases of respiratory infection, coughs, consumption, bronchitis, pneumonia, dysentery.
Pin Yin: Xiong Moyan Gen
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lungs, Large Intestine
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Promotes Sweating/Releases to the Exterior/Tonifies the Lungs/Expels Phlegm/Clears Heat/Reduces Swelling: colds, coughs with no or difficult expectoration, bronchitis, pleurisy, croup. Moves Qi: relieves spasms, asthma, relaxes the uterus, supports the intestines, colicky pains, flatulence. Restores the Liver/Promotes Urination/Benefits the Skin/Clears Wind Heat: used for colds, flu, bronchitis, asthma, measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, poor appetite, diarrhea, ulcers, syphilis, dry skin, abdominal bloating.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Sometimes Leaves and the Whole Plant (Young Shoots, Flower Buds and Stems are all edible)
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Cool, Dry
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy (it can over stimulate the uterus), during lactation or with infants, due to small amounts of cardiac glycosides that can be toxic.
History/Folklore: Pleurisy has been used by Native Americans as an expectorant for wet coughs and other pulmonary ailments. It was considered to be one of the “finds” of early medical botanists in the U.S. around the turn of the 19th century, even while Native Americans had been using it for over thousands of years.
Pleurisy is considered one of the best herbal expectorants available while also being cool and relaxing. While the young shoots are edible, some alkaloids in older more mature plants can be toxic and are not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding woman. These older plants can make children and livestock sick as well.
A cupful of warm infusion (1 teaspoon of powder in a cup of boiling water) taken every hour will quickly and effectively promote perspiration and release stuck phlegm.
Pleurisy is not native to China, but has in modern times been combined with the popular Chinese herb, skullcap, to help treat pneumonia.
The family of milkweed plants (Asclepias) were named for Aesculapius, an ancient Greek healer, who is said to have learned his knowledge of healing from Chiron the centaur whose herbal and medical skills came directly from the god Apollo.
Good quality roots will be externally a pale orange-brown color, that can become grayish-brown if kept for long and internally a whitish color. They are tough brittle roots with very little odor and an unpleasant bitter, almost acid taste.
Glycosides (including Asclepaidin and Cardioactive glycosides), Alkaloids, Tannic and Gallic acids, Resins,
Bitters, Essential oil, Fixed oil resins.
Hummingbirds and Butterflies
Hummingbirds and butterflies also like the plant’s cooler and profuse nectar, hence the common name “Butterfly Weed.”
Cool & Relaxing
It is cool and relaxing like the herbs elder or coltsfoot.
Rope and Fabric
Pleurisy fibers have been used to make rope and fabric.
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