Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
Virginia snakeroot is a perennial plant indigenous to the rich, dry woods of the eastern U.S. Its fibrous, horizontal rootstock produces many thin roots, as well as a wavy stem that reaches 1 to3 feet in height. The alternate thin, green leaves are ovate and cordate, tapering gradually to a point at the apex. A few solitary purple flowers, with an S-shaped calyx inflated at both ends, bloom on short,
scaly branches near the bottom of the plant during May and July.
Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family)
Other Names: Pelican flower, Snakeroot, Sangree root, Snakeweed, Texas snakeroot
Flowers: May – July
Parts Used: Root and rhizome
Habitat: Woods. Southwestern Connecticut to Florida; Texas to Missouri and Ohio.
Properties: Stimulant, Diaphoretic, Anodyne, Antispasmodic, Tonic, Nervine
.Constituents: Aristolochin, volatile oil, tannic acid, resin, gum, sugar.Main Uses: The root nibbled (in minute doses) or in a weak tea (see below) promotes sweating, appetite, and is an expectorant. Virginia snakeroot is used for fevers, stomachaches, indigestion, suppressed menstruation, and snakebites. Tea may be gargled for sore throat.
CAUTION: Irritating in large doses. Large doses may cause vomiting, diarrhea, vertigo, and other unpleasant side effects.
Preparation And Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon dried rootstock or fresh roots in 1 cup water. Take 1 tablespoon three to six times a day.
Tincture: Fresh plant (1:2), dry root (1:5), in 70% alcohol. Take 5 to 20 drops in cold water up to 3 times a day