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Herb Reference Guide

Gravel Root

History

This plant can be found stretching it’s tall purple, perennial flowers towards the sun in moist woodlands throughout the Northwest, Central and Eastern parts of the US and Canada. It's referred to frequently as “Joe Pye Weed” after a legend of a Native American in New England named Joe Pye (Jopi) who used the plant to treat various ailments.* It’s also sometimes referred to as Queen of the Meadow, another name that harkens to the stately nature of this fine specimen. It does tower over other plants when it's in bloom sometime up to 5 or 6 feet tall. There were several uses of this plant among Native Americans, including a wash for burns made from a poultice of the fresh leaves by the Potawatomi, and an infusion of the entire plant used by the Iriquois as a wash called “little water medicine”.* Since it grows near water it is a signature of the plant to be used for things related to fluids in the body.* Ingenious uses by Native Americans involved using the hollow stems to drink water from nearby sources.

Function

Much of the recorded use of this plant relates to internal preparations to support the body during times of stress caused by infection, difficulty in urination, and when "under the weather".* Three of the known constituents, Kaempferol, Quercitin and Rutin have all shown promise in research surrounding their antioxidant properties.* It reasons that imparting these qualities topically has at least something to do with how this plant supports the natural healing of minor skin abrasions and preserves skin integrity.*

Uses of Gravel Root

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Eupatorin, gallic acid, gum, kaempferol, quercitin, rutin, tannic acid

Parts Used

  • Root

Important precautions

For external use only. Nursing mothers should not apply to the breast area.

Additional Resources

Smith, Huron H. 1933 Ethnobotany of the Forest Potawatomi Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee 7:1-230 (p. 52)

Herrick, James William 1977 Iroquois Medical Botany. State University of New York, Albany, PhD Thesis (p. 455)