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White Hellebore

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  • Botanical: Veratrum album
  • Family: Lilaceae
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White Hellebore

Botanical

Veratrum album

Family

Lilaceae

Known as

False helleborine, European white hellebore, White veratrum, Weißer Germer, Nieswurz, Hemmer wurzn, Lauskraut, Lauswurz

Old Use

medical, industry

Parts Used

roots

Medicinal

coughs, diarrhea, digestion, pain relief, vomiting

Mind & Nerves

pain relief

Respiratory System

bronchitis, catarrh, cough, pharyngitis

Stomach & Intestinal

constipation, digestion, laxative, vomiting

Properties

analgesic, antibacterial, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant

Description

The plant is a perennial herb with a stout vertical rhizome covered with remnants of old leaf sheaths. The stout, simple stems are 50 to 175 cm tall. They have been mistaken for yellow gentian, Gentiana lutea, which is used in beverages, resulting in poisoning.

Properties & Uses

The root is analgesic, anthelmintic, cathartic, emetic, errhine, expectorant, hypnotic and sternutatory. The root is very poisonous, with a paralyzing effect on the nervous system, and is scarcely if ever used internally, though the alkaloids it contains are used in the pharmaceutical industry. It is occasionally used externally as a local analgesic, though even this is not without its dangers since it can be absorbed through broken skin. It is also used in veterinary medicine. The root is harvested in early autumn and is dried for later use.

Other Uses

The dried and powdered root contains pyrethrums and is used as an insecticide and a parasiticide. It is also effective against caterpillars and mammals so great caution is advised.

Cautions

All parts of the plant are highly poisonous

Distribution

Europe, from Lapland to Italy. Does not occur in the British Isles.

Constituents

Authorities differ as to the presence or absence of the veratria of cevadilla. It contains jervine, pseudo-jer-vine, rubijervine, veratralbine and veratrine. Cevadine is stated to be absent. There is fatty matter, composed of olein, stearin and a volatile acid, supergallate of Veratia, yellow colouring matter, starch ligneous matter, and gum; the ashes contain much phosphate and carbonate of lime, carbonate of potassa and some traces of silica, and sulphate of lime. There has been found in it a white, crystalline, fusible and inflammable substance called barytin, of which the properties have not been thoroughly investigated.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.