Wild Indigo

Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
Identification: A perennial that grows 2 to 4 feet in height. Stem is erect, and has alternate branches that contain several whorls of 3 clover-like leaflets. Each branch has a whorl or 3 leaflets where it attaches to the stem. Leaves are
nearly sessile. Yellow flowers, which are arranged at the tops of the highest branches, are 1/2 inch long, and form brown 1/2-inch cylindrical pods.
Root: Wild Indigo has a thick, knotty crown or head, with several stem scars, and a round, fleshy root, sending out cylindrical branches and rootlets almost 2 feet in length. The white woody interior is covered with a thick, dark brown bark, rather scaly or dotted with small, wartlike excrescences. The root breaks with a tough, fibrous fracture. There is a scarcely perceptible odor and the taste, which resides chiefly in the bark, is nauseous, bitter and acrid.
Family: Leguminosae (Pea)
Other Names: Wild indigo, clover bloom, dyer’s baptisia, false indigo, horsefly weed, indigo broom, indigo weed, rattlebush, rattleweed, yellow broom, yellow wild indigo.
Flowers: May – September.
Habitat: Dry, open woods, clearings. Centered around Virginia and North Carolina. The range extends from Georgia to Minnesota and east to the coast.
Parts Used: Root and whole plant.
History: American Indians used the root tea as an emetic and prugative; cold tea to stop vomiting. A poultice of the root was used for toothaches, to allay inflammation; wash used for cuts, wounds, bruises, and sprains.
Historically, the black root of wild indigo was used to make blue dye as well as to treat several types of infections, including those affecting the mouth and gums, lymph nodes, throat, and ulcers.1 In the past, wild indigo was used to treat more severe infections, such as typhus.
Constiuents: Flavonoids (flavones and isoflavones), alkaloid (cytisine, baptitoxin), glycosides, oleoresin, coumarins, resin.
Medicinal Properties: Antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, mild cardioactive agent, anticatarrhal, febrifuge, circulatory stimulant, anti-infective, alterative, chologogue, laxative, astringent, emetic.
Uses: Fresh root tea considered laxative, astringent, antiseptic; gargled for sore throats. Tea used as a wash for leg, arm, and stomach cramps and wounds. Said to stimulate bile secretion. Root poultice for gangrenous ulcers. German studies have shown the extract stimulates the immune system.
An infusion is used in the treatment of upper respiratory infections such as tonsilitis and pharyngitis, and is also valuable in treating infections of the chest, gastro-intestinal tract and skin. The plants antimicrobial and immune-stimulant properties combat lymphatic problems, when used with detoxifying herbs such as Arctium lappa it helps to reduce enlarged lymph nodes.
Wild indigo is frequently prescribed, along with Echinacea, in the treatment of chronic viral infections or chronic fatigue syndrome. A decoction of the root soothes sore or infected nipples and infected skin conditions. When used as a mouth wash or gargle the decoction treats mouth ulcers, gum infections and sore throats.
The plants antimicrobial and immune-stimulant properties combat lymphatic problems, when used with detoxifying herbs such as Burdock, it helps to reduce enlarged lymph nodes.
Wild indigo is frequently prescribed, along with Echinacea, in the treatment of chronic viral infections or chronic fatigue syndrome. A decoction of the root soothes sore or infected nipples and infected skin conditions. When used as a mouth wash or gargle the decoction treats mouth ulcers, gum infections and sore throats.
The fresh root, including the bark, is used to make a homeopathic medicine. This has a limited range of action, but is used especially in the treatment of certain types of flu.

Caution is advised in the internal use of this plant, large or frequent doses are potentially harmful.
Preparations and Dosages: Root gathered in autumn: Tincture [1:5, 65% alcohol]
Whole Plant: Fresh Tincture [1:2], both taken 10 to 25 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Liquid extract: [1:1 in 60% alcohol], up tp 3 times a day.
USE WITH CARE; better long term in formulas.

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