Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Other common names: Old-man-in-the-spring, ragwort, grimsel, grinsel, grundsel, simson, birdseed, chickenweed, squaw weed, grundy swallow, ground glutton and common butterweed.
*Not to be confused with other species of groundsel, some of which are also used medicinally.
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Diaphoretic, antiscorbutic, purgative, diuretic, anthelmintic, emetic (when prepped in a strong infusion), emollient.
The plant is collected in May, and dried for later use or juiced while fresh.
Part used: Whole herb
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (including senecin and seniocine).
Inducing vomiting, treating constipation, fever, urinary retention, parasites, dry skin.
*This plant is not used as commonly now, due to the risks of liver toxicity with chronic use. Do NOT use it medicinally without the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.*
Internally a strong infusion was used to induce vomiting, and a weaker infusion for encouraging bowel movements, expelling parasites, etc. These preparations could be made from dried or fresh plant matter.
Poultices with the fresh plant were used for treating dry skin, skin irregularities or gout (when mixed with a base of oil or fat). Use caution in those with sensitive skin or allergies to plants, as some can get dermatitis from using this plant topically.
All species of the genus Senecio contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and can cause permanent liver damage if used in high dosages or for lengthy periods of time. I don’t suggest using this herb without the advice and careful monitoring of a healthcare practitioner, and never if you have had any history of liver or kidney damage/disease. Do not use while pregnant or nursing. Do not mix with alcohol. Do not use if you are allergic to plants in the daisy family.
I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.
This was traditionally used to cure horses suffering from parasitic infections (don’t try this at home…this plant may not be safe for animals). Smelling the plant when freshly harvested from the soil, was thought to be helpful for headaches. It was considered a remedy for diseases with a hot constitution.
Common groundsel has a wet, cold constitution.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.