Pinkroot

Botanical Name

  • Family Loganiaceae
  • Spigelia marilandica

Common Names

  • Pink Root, Maryland/Carolina Pinkroot, American Wormgrass/Wormroot, Indian/India/Carolina/Maryland Pink, Spigelia, Starbloom, Wormgrass

Cautions

  • It should be used only under professional guidance as older sources state that the herb contains a toxin that paralyzes the spinal marrow that can lead to death through asphyxiation.

Description

 Native to the southern US, pinkroot is a prolific perennial plant with oval to lance-shaped leaves, spikes of brilliant red-pink flowers, and a double seed capsule. It grows in dry, rich soil in woodland clearings and borders, especially in Kentucky, Florida, and Texas. The roots are unearthed in autumn.

History

 Used extensively by Native Americans as a vermifuge, it was gathered for trade with the white settlers by the Creeks and Cherokees. From the late 18th century onward, it became a major de-worming herb in North America and Europe.

Key Actions

  • antiparasitic
  • strongly emetic

Key Components

  • alkaloids (mainly spigeleine)
  • volatile oil
  • tannins
  • acidic resins
  • waxes

Medicinal Parts

  • Rhizomes, roots
  • Spigeleine is irritating to the stomach and strongly emetic.

Traditional Uses

 Today, pinkroot is used solely to expel intestinal worms, especially tapeworms and roundworms. It is prescribed with such other herbs as senna and fennel to ensure the elimination of both the worms and the root itself, which is potentially toxic if it is absorbed through the gut. The recommended dosage is one ounce of the powdered root made into an infusion and taken morning and evening, with as little food during the day as possible between the two doses.

Several of the Spigelia species act as worm-expelling herbs. These include S. flemmingania, native to Brazil, and S. anthelmia, native to the Caribbean, Venezuela, and Colombia, which also contains isoquinoline alkaloids useful in the treatment of heart disease.

The root has also been used as a febrifuge and for malaria.

Homeopathic remedies are used as a calmative during states of excitement.

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