Latin Name: Asclepius tuberosa
Common name: Pleurisy root, Butterfly Weed, Milkweed
Parts used: Root
- Cardiac glycosides: cardenolide type (afroside, asclepin, asclepiadin, calactin, calotropin, gomphoside, syriogenin, syrioside, uscharidin, uscharin and uzarigenin).
- Flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, rutin and isorhamnetin)
- Amino acids (choline)
- Phenolic acids (caffeic & chlorogenic acid)
- Carbohydrates (glucose, fructose and sucrose)
- Triterpenes (a-amyrin and bamyrin, lupeol, friedelin, viburnitol)
- Volatile oil
- Nervine relaxant
- Has its historical basis in the treatment of pleurisy to relieve the associated pain and ease breathing. The specific indications are shortness of breath, strong pulse, sweating/moist skin, acute pain that is worse with motion, and inflammation and catarrh of serous tissues.
- Used primarily in chronic respiratory conditions (e.g. pneumonia, bronchitis), acutely for influenza (earliest stages), and intercostal diseases. Will induce perspiration (diaphoresis) and relieve suppressed expectoration while exerting an antispasmodic effect.
- Considered to decrease arterial tension and creates mild sedation overall.
- Chemistry is poorly documented, but phytochemical studies on related Asclepias species have identified many cardiac glycoside constituents. A as rule, cardiac glycosides inhibit the sodium potassium pump leading to a rise in intracellular calcium, which increases contractile force and speed of the heart muscle. A positive inotropic action (in vivo and in vitro) has been reported for asclepin, which was found to be more potent, longer acting and with a wider safety margin when compared with other cardiac glycosides (including digoxin). Asclepin was also reported to exhibit a more powerful activity towards weak cardiac muscle.
- Low doses of extracts have been documented to cause uterine contractions (in vivo) and to exhibit estrogenic effects.
- Flavonoids rutin and quercetin are cardioactive steroids.
- Decoction: ½ -1 tsp/cup , TID
- Tincture: 1-3 ml (1:5, 40%), TID. 80 ml Weekly Max
- Dried herb: 1-3 g, QD.
- Note: traditionally given in small, frequent doses.
- Avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Has been documented to cause dermatitis (milky latex is reported to be irritant).
- Large doses may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Note: Asclepin has been documented to have a wider margin of safety than digoxin in animal and in vitro studies.
- Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Potential to interact with other medicines administered concurrently with similar or opposing effects (e.g. Digitalis).
- Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.