Eupatoriumsamily: N.O. Compositae
The Eupatoriums are some of the most important plants used in herbal medicine.
Boneset, Hemp Agrimony and Gravel Root will be found described under their specific names.
The following species are not so well known in Great Britain, though they are familiar plants in different parts of America and Brazil.
Eupatorium teucrifolium, or Wild Horehound (syn. E. verbenaefolium, Michx.), has small white flowerheads and abounds in the southern United States, and has similar though less powerful properties than E. perfoliatum (Boneset).
The whole herb is employed, and both this and the preceding species were formerly included in the Secondary List of the Materia Medica of the United States.
E. ageratoides, or White Snake-root, is also in use as an anti-spasmodic, diuretic and diaphoretic; it is this plant which has been supposed to cause the fatal disease called 'trembles' in cattle, and the equally fatal local disease of some of the western States called 'Milk Sickness' in the human subject. It has also been lately confirmed by experiment that another American species, E. urticaefolium, is poisonous to stock.
E. aromaticum (Linn.) and E. incarnatum (Walt.), the Texan 'Mata,' are also other American species, which have gained much reputation in diseases connected with inflammation and irritability of the bladder; they are said to contain a principle similar to, if not identical with, coumarin, which is obtained from the Tonka Bean. E. incarnatum is also used for flavouring tobacco.
E. Ayapana (Vent), a Brazilian species, is an aromatic bitter and febrifuge like E. perfoliatum, and is considered a sure remedy - if timely used - for antidoting the effects of the bites of poisonous reptiles and insects. It is regarded as the most powerful species of the genus but has fallen into neglect, though still occasionally met with in European commerce. E. foeniculem (Willd.), E. Ieucolepsis (T. & G.) and E. hyssopifolium (Linn.) are also considered to be antidotes to the poisonous bites of reptiles and stings of insects.
E. nervosum, a Jamaican species commonly known as Bitter-Bush, is regarded as very efficacious in cholera, and also in typhus and typhoid fevers and in smallpox. Another Jamaican species, E. villosum, also known locally as Bitter-Bush, is used there in the preparation of beer as a tonic and a stimulant in low, zymotic diseases.
E. rotundifolium (Linn.), a native of New England and Virginia, has been considered a palliative in consumption, and E. collinum is included in the Mexican Pharmacopoeia, for properties similar to those of E. perfoliatum.
The leaves of E. glutinosum (Larmarck) also constitute one of the substances known as 'Matico' in South America, the latter name, however, belonging by right to 'Herba Matico,' an infusion of which is a recognized styptic, used to staunch the bleeding of wounds and to cure internal haemorrhage. The true Matico is Piper Angustifolium (Ruiz & P.), but other plants besides this species of Eupatorium are frequently brought into the market under the name of Matico. In Quito, E. glutinosum quite generally goes by the name of Matico or Chusalonga.
Attention has been drawn of late to another South American species, E. rebaudiana, a tiny shrub, native to the highlands of Paraguay, called by the Indians 'Sweet Herb,' a few leaves being said to be sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of tea or coffee, giving also a pleasant aromatic flavour. It would seem worth while to cultivate this species here for experiment, since it has been called the Sugar Plant of South America, and probably proving easy of cultivation might, as a paying crop, become a successful rival to the sugar beet.