Basic Information

Common name: Boneset

Other Names: Thoroughwort

Latin Binomial: Eupatorium perfoliatum

Parts Used: Dried aerial parts


Medicinal Uses

Boneset is effective in breaking fevers, making it particularly useful for influenza as it relieves accompanying muscles aches and pains in the process. In fact, its name is derived from its established reputation of effectively treating ‘break-bone fever’. Break-bone fever is a name that was applied to dengue fever in the U.S., a mosquito-borne virus that is prevalent in tropical locations. There was an outbreak of dengue (aka break-bone) fever in the Southern United States in the late 1800s. It was characterized by muscle and joint pains that accompanied fever, vomiting, headache and skin rash.


Boneset also exhibits a mild laxative affect and stimulates perspiration, making it useful as a gentle cleansing depurative. It has also been found useful for expelling mucus from the respiratory tract. Native Americans used it to treat rheumatic pain.


Key Constituents

  • Sesquiterpene lactones (bitter chemical constituents that exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and immunostimulant actions)
  • Polysaccharides (stimulates the immune system)
  • Flavonoids
  • Diterpenes
  • Sterols
  • Volatile Oils



  • Diaphoretic
  • Laxative
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Astringent
  • Depurative
  • Expectorant


Body Organs Acted Upon

  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Small Intestines


When and How to Use It

May be taken in tincture form or as a hot or cold infusion. As a tincture, take 2-4 ml, three times per day. As an infusion, use 1-2 teaspoons to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10-15 minutes and take every hour or so when in the middle of a fever or flu and three times per day once fever begins to break.


Safety Considerations

Some may experience allergic reaction to those with general allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family. While the dosage range for toxicity is large and somewhat forgiving, excessive consumption can be toxic. If vomiting ensues, stop taking the herb and seek medical assistance.



Bone, Kerry and Mills, Simon (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine, 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, Ltd. China.

Chevallier, Andrew (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine: The definitive reference to 550 herbs and remedies for common ailments, 2nd ed. Dorling Kindersley. New York, NY.

Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT.

Marieb, E.N. (2015). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology, 11th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. Glenview, IL.

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