Eupatorium purpureum
Common name: gravel root, Queen of the Meadow, Joe-pye weed
Habitat:i Indigenous to N. America from Canada to Florida. Grows in swampy and rich low grounds.
Botanical description: ii
Stem is rigidly erect, ~ usually 5-6 ft (but can be up to 12 ft) high, stout, unbranched, either hollow or with incomplete
pith. It is purple above the joints and often covered with elongated spots and lines. Leaves are oblong and pointed,
rough above, but downy beneath. They are placed in whorls of 4-5 on the stem (mostly 5) and are nearly destitute of
resinous dots. The margins are coarsely and unequally toothed, the leaf-stalks either short or merely represented by
the contracted bases of the leaves.
The flowers are purple, in a dense terminal inflorescence, the heads very numerous, 5-10 flowered, contained in an
eight-leaved, fresh-colored involucre. E. purpurum blossoms in the summer months.
Parts used: Root and rhizome
 Boneset contains volatile oil, flavonoids,iii, iv and resins
Medicinal actions: Diuretic, anti-lithic, anti-rheumaticv
Traditional Medicinal Uses:
 Genitourinary Condtions: Its principal influence was considered to be upon the kidneys, and it was employed as a The specific indications for E. purpureum were irritation of the bladder in women from displacement and
chronic inflammation of the uterus; suppression of urine, partial or complete, during or after pregnancy. E.
purpureum was used in edema, gravel, hematuria, strangury (painful and interrupted urination in drops produced
by spasmodic muscular contraction of the urethra and bladder), pain in the kidneys and bladder, cutting pain with
urination, constant desire to urinate, burning distress and mucous in the urine. vii
 Gynecological Conditions: Chronic endometritis and other chronic uterine disease, leucorrhea, ovarian and uterine
atony, and dysmenorrhea. In the pregnant women, it was utilized for threatened miscarriage and insufficient labor
 Inflammatory Conditiions: Intermittent fever with chills in the lumbar region, bone pain and violent shaking with
little perspiration, frontal headache, weakness and fatigue, intermittent paroxysms and fever with night sweating.
Its use has also been indicated for scarlet fever.ix
 Nervous Conditions: Eupatorium purpureum was thought to act on the ganglionic system of nerves. (Note: this
appears to mean as having an effect on the sympathetic nervous system which is likely calming as he further
states that it improves digestion). x
Current Medicinal Uses:
 Genitourinary Conditions:xi
 E. purpureum is used most often in the treatment of renal and urinary calculi. It stimulates renal function,
presumably through a stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. It is both stimulating and sedating to the
renal apparatus. As a diuretic, it stimulates the flow of water and solutes. It is particularly helpful in removing
urinary gravel. It aids the passage of the gravel while soothing the urinary tract and relieving pain associated with
lithiasis. It has not been observed to dissolve a calculus once formed, however, it does stimulate its passage and
provide relief from the pain of the stone passage.
 The diuretic action of gravel root is followed by a gentle tonification. This tonifying effect is also evident in a
weakened, congested uterus or prostate E. purpureum may also promote the excretion of uric acid. Finally, the
diuretic action of this plant lends it application in joint and dependent edema. Gravel root is indicated in difficult
and painful urination with frequency, a sensation of obstruction, a feeling of heaviness in the supra-pubic area,
burning urination and blood in the urine. Eupatorium purpureum is used in cases of hematuria, either due to
cystitis or due to renal calculi.
E. purpureum is also indicated in urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence, incontinence of pregnancy,
incontinence in children and incontinence associated with inflammation may all be improved with administration of
gravel root. In addition, impotence in men and uterine weakness (habitual abortion, prolapse, retroversion, and
chronic inflammation) may resolve with the use of gravel root.
 Decoction: 1 tsp/cup water; bring to boil, simmer x 10 min, sig 1 cup TIDxii
 Tincture (strength unspecified): 1-2 ml TIDxiii
 Fluid extract: (strength unspecified): ½-1 drams.xiv
Mrs M. Greive, A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folklore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi,
Shrubs, & Trees with Their Modern Scientific Uses, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 1971, Vol. I, p. 374.
ii Ibid, pp. 374-5.
iii Simon Mills, Kerry Bone, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Churchhill Livingstone, New York, 2000
iv Lininger et al, Healthnotes: Clinical Essentials, Herb Monographs, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. 2001
v David Hoffman, The Holistic Herbal: A Herbal Celebrating the Wholeness of Life, 3rd ed., Element, Shaftesburry, Dorset, 1990, p. 204
vi John M. Scudder, Specific Medication and Specific Medicines, 15th ed, Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, OR, 1903.
vii Finley Ellingwood, American Materia Medica, Therapeutic and Pharmacognosy. Ellingwood’s Therapeutist, Chicago, 1919, pp. 438-9
viii Ibid.
ix Ibid.
x Ibid.
xi No reference found.
xii Hoffman, p. 204
xiii Ibid.
xiv Greive, Vol. I, p. 375.