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Euphorbia hirta (Euphorbiaceae)

PILL BEARING SPURGE, ASTHMA WEED

 

The whole of this tropical herb, also known as asthma weed, is used by Chinese physicians for dysentery and athlete's foot, and by herbalists for amoebic dysentery in the tropics, and for asthma, bronchitis and catarrh.

 

Pill bearing spurge is one of the few safe medicinal plants among the several thousand species in its family. Most Euphorbiaceae contain a milky latex that can be very poisonous, for example, E. heptagona is used in poisoned arrows in east Africa. Native to India but naturalized throughout the tropics, E. hirta grows freely on waste ground and roadsides, and as a garden weed. It can be annual or perennial and has low spreading stems and oval leaves, both of which are reddish and hairy. Tight clusters of small flowers appear in summer followed by capsules containing tiny red seeds.

 

PARTS USED

Whole herb.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Flavonoids, including quercetin; terpenoids; phenolic acids; choline.

 

ACTIONS

Anti-asthmatic; expectorant; reduces muscle tension and spasm; kills and helps expel worms; kills amoebae.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given for asthma, bronchitis, and upper respiratory catarrh. Used against amoebic dysentery in the tropics. Chinese physicians prescribe it for athlete's foot and other skin conditions, as well as dysentery.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, tincture.

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