Asclepias. Asclepias tuberosa.

Botanical name: 

Related entry: Asclepias incarnata

Synonym—Pleurisy Root.

Glucoside, tannic and gallic acids, resin, fixed oil, volatile oil, fat, gum, starch.


Extractum Asclepiadis Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Asclepias. Dose, from one to five grains.
Specific Asclepias. Dose, from one to sixty minims.

Action—Diaphoretic, expectorant, cathartic, tonic.

Physiological Action—In regard to the influence of asclepias, Grover Coe, M. D., writing in 1858, gives the following wide range of action. He says: "No other remedy with which we are acquainted is so universally admissible in the treatment of disease, either alone or in combination. In fact we think of no pathological condition that would be aggravated by its employment. It expels wind, relieves pain, relaxes spasm, induces and promotes perspiration, equalizes the circulation, harmonizes the action of the nervous system, and accomplishes its work without excitement; neither increasing the force or frequency of the pulse, nor raising the temperature of the body. It is of special service in the treatment of affections involving the serous membranes, as pleuritis, peritonitis, etc." In this it resembles bryonia closely.

The most active apparent influence of this agent is upon the sudoriparous glands. It is distinctively an eliminative agent of general utility. It is mild in its influence, but if given with confidence it will produce good results.

Specific Symptomatology—Its first direct effect is upon the serous membranes within the thorax. It is specific in pleuritic pains, both of the acute and subacute variety, in doses of fifteen drops every two or three hours. For these I have long prescribed this agent with positiveness, and have yet to be disappointed. If effusion be present, its rapid removal is facilitated. The pain and distress abate, the cough disappears, the respiration becomes free and natural, the inspiration being especially pleasant; the heart takes on increased tone, and the entire contents of the thoracic cavity seemed benefited. I have treated with this remedy the "stitch in the side," which had been present for many months after pleurisy, and have removed it satisfactorily.

This agent will cure pains in the chest unaccompanied by prominent symptoms, acute, sharp and cutting, recurrent or persistent in their character, if given in doses of half a dram every two or three hours and persisted in for a few days.

Therapy—It is beneficial in acute pleuritis specifically, also in bronchitis, pneumonitis and peritonitis. It has distinct expectorant properties. In tight and painful coughs with difficult respiration, especially where there is a general suspension of secretion, with dry skin and mucous membranes, and in soreness of the chest from coughing, it is a most excellent remedy. In all these conditions if there is the least elevation of temperature its influence will be greatly enhanced if given in conjunction with aconite.

It was in great repute among the older Eclectic physicians in the treatment of acute pleuritis, as suggested above. They also used it in acute inflammations of serous membranes, especially if there were acute, quick pains, and a tendency to serous effusion. Its eliminative action upon the skin greatly enhances its influence in these cases.

If the powdered asclepias be combined with ipecac and camphor, a powder is produced with diaphoretic properties of an Improved Dover's Powder.

To obtain active diaphoresis, asclepias should be given in strong, hot infusion. Its influence in acute rheumatism should not be overlooked. It may be combined with such agents as cimicifuga and colchicum, and will markedly intensify their action, especially if aconite be indicated.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.