PLEURISY ROOT, Asclepias tuberosa

The Native American Indians considered pleurisy root as one of the Great White Father to the children of nature. The Indians used it as a tea or chewed the dried the dried root. It was so effective against pulmonary complaints like colds, pleurisy. Asthma, pneumonia, pulmonary catarrh and other ailments of the chest and lungs.

Until popular fifty years ago, pleurisy root was and used for many respiratory problems, and scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, measles, lung fever, bilious fever, typhus and other burning fevers. Pleurisy root, and other herbs like yerba santa, colt's foot and horehound, affect the mucus secretion of the respiratory system. Mucus must be of the proper consistency to provide adequate protection to the mucus membrane. If it is too thin, it will leave the tissue dry and susceptible to germs and pathogens and not provide proper protection. If the mucus is too thick and heavy, it congests and blocks air passages adding to respiratory problems that cause asthma, catarrhal accumulations and other ailments.

I am reminded of a story of a man they called “Old John,” who had a real problem with his respiratory system. He was an old bachelor and he lived on the poor side of town . He rattled and wheezed with each breath. It took all of his strength to walk a little way. Doctors had him on many different antibiotics, but none seemed to help him. They only seemed to weaken his immune system. One doctor even said his teeth were poisoning his system, so they pulled all his teeth, but it didn't help his breathing any. He sounded really awful when he tried to breath. He had to struggle for every breath he took.
One day, a new family moved just a few doors down from Old John. It wasn't long until the lady was sending her kids to Old John's place with soup or some vegetables and fruit. Then she made some tea out of vegetable tops and herbs. Two of the herbs she used were pleurisy root and yerba santa. The pleurisy root seemed to clear the phlegm and heavy mucous out of his chest. He didn't rattle and wheeze so much. The lady made teas and poultices for him and helped him to get rid of the excess phlegm and mucus. When Old John got feeling better and cleaned up, we were surprised to see that he wasn't even fifty years old yet. Soon he could go back to work and care for himself.

The bad thing about some antibiotics for asthma and other respiratory problems is that they kill bad bacteria as well as bad and break down the immune system; yet they don't clear the phlegm and mucus out of the air passages. Then the body gets immune to the antibiotics and the problem gets worse.

Pleurisy root is a good expectorant to clean out the phlegm and mucus from the repiratory passages. It is a diaphoretic to help you sweat, a diuretic to help the kidneys, a nervine to calm and help rebuild the nerves. In large doses, pleurisy root acts as an emetic and purgative to clean out the phlegm and mucus that accumulate in the stomach. It will reduce inflammation in the lungs and in the pleura. It works well with colt's foot, garlic, ginger, horehound eucalyptus, yerba santa and horseradish.

Pleurisy root is a perennial member of the milkweed family that grows about two feet high and has a large, white, fleshy tap root. It has narrow leaves and orange blossoms that grow in terminal clusters and attract butterflies. It is a beautiful plant. You should grow some in your flower garden.

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