Most common uses in history is for flu and fevers. It is astringent, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, an antioxidant, a decongestant, mild muscle relaxer, and in large doses it can be a laxative. Historically it has not only been used for influenza but also for malaria and mosquito borne diseases. While it does raise body temperature and break fevers it is most famous for its use on dengue fever. Also it has been used for the common cold, rheumatism, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. This was a common medicine in Colonial America and also widely used by Native Americans.
Boneset is in the Aster family and is a perennial. The easiest way to identify the herb is by the stem in how it appears to pierce through the center of the leaf. The leaf is lance shaped on both ends and can appear as an elongated diamond. This appearance gives the look of one solid leaf with a stem through it and all leaves will appear the same in all stages of growth. The stem will have a hairy texture to it. When flowering the top of the plant will have clusters of white to light purple flowers.
This herb is most commonly found in disturbed soil areas, wetlands, moist ground or near streams, rivers and lakes. It can also be found in moist soil in fields or lower ground where water commonly gathers from watersheds.
It is most often used as an infusion as a tea with the leaves being the main ingredient. It has a bitter taste. Unlike some other herbs, Boneset should not be consumed at leisure in larger quantities. It contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and while controversial it can potentially cause liver damage over time. In layman's terms, Boneset is considered to be a “stronger” medicine than others such as Plantago Major that can be drank as a tea at will daily if desired. When a decoction is made with Boneset and used as an infusion it can induce vomiting.