Culver’s Root (Leptandra virginica)

Culver’s Root Identification:
This tall herbaceous perennial was included by Linnaeus in the genus Veronica, but was later assigned by Nuttall to the genus Leptandra, followed by present-day botanists.
It has a simple, erect stem, 3 to Culver’s Root Flowers

4 feet high or more, smooth and downy, furnished with leaves in whorls and terminating in a long spike of white flowers, 6 to 10 inches long. The leaves, 4 to 7 in each whorl, are lanceolate, pointed and minutely serrate, and stand on short footstalks. The rhizome is of horizontal growth, nearly cylindrical, somewhat branched, dark brown to purplish brown, smooth and faintly longitudinally wrinkled, and showing stem bases at intervals of 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches. The rootlets, rising from the under portion, are wiry and brittle when dry.
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon family)
Other Names: Black Root, Beaumont Root, Bowman’s Root, Bourman’s Root, Physic Root, Culver’s Physic, Oxadoddy, Tall Speedwell, Tall Veronica
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Root & rhizome
Habitat: Moist fields. Massachusetts to Florida; eastern Texas to Manitoba.
Constituents: Bitter principle ( leptandrin), mannitol, dextrose, resin, fatty acids, volatile oil, saponins, phytosterols, glycoside (resembling senegin), tannins.
Medicinal Properties:
Alterative – Cleanses, stimulates, and aids in the efficient removal of waste products.
Bitter – Stimulates secretion of digestion and encourages appetite.
Blood purifier – Cleanses the blood as well as enhances it by increasing the nutrient value.
Cathartic – Is a strong laxative which causes raped evacuation.
Cholagogue – Stimulates bile flow from the gall bladder and bile ducts into the duodenum.
Emetic – Causes vomiting.
Emmenagogue – Facilitates and regulates menstrual flow. (Avoid during pregnancy)
Hepatic – Supports and stimulates the liver, gall bladder, and spleen, and increases the flow of bile.
Laxative – Stimulates bowel movements.
Tonic – Restores, nourishes, and supports the entire body; it exerts a gently strengthening effect on the body.

Main Uses: Acts as a gentle laxative and liver tonic, stimulating the flow of bile. It has been used to treat the symptoms of hepatitis, for pain around the liver area, juandice, and accompanying depression. It was formerly used to treat malaria and other fevers. The bitter principle (leptandrin) gently stimulates the liver and promotes the secretion of bile without irritating the bowels or purging.

Indications: Malaise; soreness on pressure and fullness in the hepatic region (liver). Inactivity of the gastrointestinal organs; torpid liver; constipation; dull headache; loss of appetite; cold skin and extremities; mental depression and great lassitude; drowsiness; dizziness; tongue is coated with white; skin is yellow; restlessness; insomnia; diarrhea with half-digested passages, or clay-colored evacuations; and gloomy and depressed mental state.

Harvest: The root should be dug up in the autumn and stored for a year before use.

Preparation and Dosages:
Root Tincture: [1:5, 65% alcohol], 10 to 30 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Decoction: Put 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb in a cup of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Take one cup 3 times a day.
Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon dried root to 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes. Take in 3 equal parts, before each meal.

Formula For Liver Disorders:
1 oz. Black Root
2 oz. Goldenseal
2 oz Wild Senna
2 pints distilled or boiled water

Reduce water to 1 pint by boiling. Take 2 tablespoons 3 to 4 times a day increasing quantity if it fails to work or decrease if it works too much.

Caution should be exercised when using this herb. It contains leptandrin, a very strong purgative and emetic. Do not drink more than one cup of the tea per day.

Note: This herb works better in formulas with other herbs than by itself.
As a cathartic and hepatic agent, it may be combined with Dandelion, Barberry, and Cayenne Pepper.
For flatulent distention, it may be combined with Goldenseal and Calamus.
For hemorrhoids, it may be combined with Stone Root.

CAUTION! Use only the dried root; the fresh root is violently cathartic and emetic and may cause bloody stools and even abortion. Never use during pregnancy.

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