Asthma Weed (Euphorbia hirta)

E. pilulifera.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Asthma Weed
Euphorbia hirta

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    Asthma weed has traditionally been used in Asia to treat bronchitic asthma and laryngeal spasm, though in modern herbalism it is more used in the treatment of intestinal amoebic dysentery[268]. It should not be used without expert guidance, however, since large doses cause gastro-intestinal irritation, nausea and vomiting[268].

    The plant is anodyne, antipruritic, carminative, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, galactogogue, purgative and vermifuge[218].The aerial parts of the plant are harvested when in flower during the summer and can be dried for later use[238].

    The stem, taken internally, is famed as a treatment for asthma, bronchitis and various other lung complaints[218, 238, 240]. The herb relaxes the bronchioles but apparently depresses the heart and general respiration[218]. It is usually used in combination with other anti-asthma herbs such as Grindelia camporum and Lobelia inflata[254]. It is also used to treat intestinal amoebic dysentery[254].

    The whole plant is decocted and used in the treatment of athlete’s foot, dysentery, enteritis and skin conditions[218]. It has been used in the treatment of syphilis[4].

    The sap is applied to warts in order to destroy them[238, 240]. The treatment needs to be repeated 2 – 3 times a day over a period of several weeks to be fully effective[K].

  • Edible Use

    Tender young leaves and shoots – cooked as a vegetable[272]. A famine food, used when all else fails[177, 179] and I would have to be very desperate to eat it even then[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The sap contains a latex which is toxic on ingestion and highly irritant externally, causing photosensitive skin reactions and severe inflammation, especially on contact with eyes or open cuts. The toxicity can remain high even in dried plant material[200]. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature[214].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow mid to late spring in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 3 weeks at 20¡c. It might be best to sow the seed in a cool greenhouse in early March. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant out the seedlings in late May. This will give the plants longer to grow and mature.
Prefers a light well-drained moderately rich loam in an open sunny position[200]. The plant is not very tolerant of frost[238], though it can probably be grown successfully in this country as a spring-sown annual[K]. Hybridizes with other members of this genus[200]. The ripe seed is released explosively from the seed capsules[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. This genus has been singled out as a potential source of latex (for making rubber) for the temperate zone, although no individual species has been singled out[141].
E. Asia – China, Japan, Himalayas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.