Common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Other common name(s): Thoroughwort, feverwort, crosswort, sweat-plant, agueweed

Photo courtesy FritzFlohrReynolds/Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of FritzFlohrReynolds/Flickr Creative Commons

*Not to be confused with Eupatorium purpureum, AKA purple-flowered boneset, or gravel root.

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Asteraceae


Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-tumorigenic (potentially), expectorant, analgesic, febrifuge, laxative, stimulant, tonic, astringent, anti-catarrhal.

Harvest: When the first flowers start to appear, usually around July or August.

Part used: Aerial parts

Constituents: Bitters, tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, polysaccharides, inulin, resin, saponins, essential oils, flavonoids, quercetin, astragalin, sesquiterpene lactones, triterpenes, alpha-amyrin, diterpenes, gallic acid, sitosterol, eupatorin, kaempferol and others.


Muscle and bone pain, swelling, fever, constipation, bronchitis, influenza, excessive phlegm.

Medicinal preparations:


Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/bobistraveling


Boneset has traditionally been used internally as a tea (infusion from the dried herb), powdered herb, or in fluid extracts (from fresh most often)/tinctures/capsules.

*NOTE: Due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, I can’t broadly recommend the internal use of this plant. Complications directly from boneset are rare, however the presence of these alkaloids have been associated with liver damage, liver cancer and veno-occlusive disease. For this reason, many herbalists recommend that this plant be used only in moderate doses and for short periods, with the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, and only in patients with no underlying liver disease or compromised function.


Boneset can also be applied in a poultice, on swollen joints or inflamed areas.


Photo courtesy of H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons


Do not use if pregnant, nursing, or if you are suffering from any condition which may compromise the liver. Do not take internally in large doses, for prolonged periods (longer than two weeks) or without the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (constituents present in boneset and certain other plants), have been linked to the onset of liver complications and even liver cancer, when these alkaloids are taken in high doses or for long periods of time. I personally wouldn’t suggest taking boneset internally without the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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.

Energetic/traditional use:

Boneset was one of the most extensively used medicinal herbs throughout North American history. It was valued highly by traditional First Nations healers. However, it was not as well-documented on other continents.

Apparently boneset got its name because of its use in treating dengue fever, and other painful musculoskeletal conditions.

It has a cold, dry 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.

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