What Is Milkweed?
Milkweed (Asclepiadium spp.) is a flowering perennial herbaceous plant native to temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. It grows from 2–10 feet tall with leaves up to 5 inches long. The flowers are white or pinkish red and have five petals each. They contain small seeds which are usually oval shaped but may vary in size depending on the variety. The leaves are arranged in whorls along the stem.
The milkweed plant produces tiny, round seeds called asclepias syriaca. These seeds germinate within 6 days after being exposed to light and when mature they produce new shoots. Seeds do not survive too well under extreme cold temperatures so it is best to keep them away from frost during winter months.
Milkweed is one of the most popular herbs used in folk medicine throughout the world. The seeds are often dried and ground into a tea to treat a wide range of ailments including: asthma, bronchitis, coughs, diarrhea, dysentery, fever blisters, gouty arthritis pain and many others. The chemical components of milkweed are cardiac glycosides, saponins, phytosterols, and mucilage.
What Are The Health Benefits?
The main health benefits of milkweed are:
It acts as a liver tonic. It is mainly used to eliminate toxins from the body and increase the flow of bile in the gall bladder. It helps in the dissolving of gall stones and prevents further formation of them.
It helps in dissolving kidney stones too. The effect on the liver helps in treating jaundice.
It is extensively used to treat respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, tuberculosis, congestion and emphysema.
It helps in treating gastrointestinal diseases such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea and dysentery.
It helps in treating blood vessel inflammation and relieves pain caused by it.
It treats fever and common cold. It helps in treating malaria, typhoid and viral fevers. It also helps in treating sexually transmitted diseases.
It is a reliable remedy for curing snake bites. It prevents the spread of venom and treats its effects.
It is also used for treating various types of allergies.
It helps in treating problems of the nerves and brain. It is also beneficial for treating Parkinson’s disease.
It helps in treating problems related to the urinary system such as bed-wetting, incontinence and cystitis.
It is good for treating excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis).
It is effective in treating infertility in women. It regulates irregular menses and prevents postpartum hemorrhage.
It is used to treat fever, coughs and colds.
It helps in treating gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite, colic abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting.
How To Use
Make a poultice of fresh milkweed and apply directly to the skin for treating rashes, insect bites, burns and sunburns.
Sources & references used in this article:
Resistance and susceptibility of milkweed: competition, root herbivory, and plant genetic variation by AA Agrawal – Ecology, 2004 – Wiley Online Library
Colonization and usage of eight milkweed (Asclepias) species by monarch butterflies and bees in urban garden settings by AM Baker, DA Potter – Journal of Insect Conservation, 2018 – Springer
Recruitment, survival, and parasitism of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in milkweed gardens and conservation areas by EA Geest, LLR Wolfenbarger, JP McCarty – Journal of Insect Conservation, 2019 – Springer
Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and milkweeds (Asclepias species) the current situation and methods for propagating milkweeds by T Luna, RK Dumroese – Native Plants Journal, 2013 – npj.uwpress.org
Configuration and location of small urban gardens affect colonization by monarch butterflies by AM Baker, DA Potter – Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2019 – frontiersin.org
Management and restoration ecology of the federal threatened Mead’s milkweed, Asclepias meadii (Asclepiadaceae) by ML Bowles, JL McBride, RF Betz – Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 1998 – JSTOR
Monarch waystations: propagating native plants to create travel corridors for migrating monarch butterflies by TD Landis – Native Plants Journal, 2014 – npj.uwpress.org
A REEXAMINATION OF THE POLLEN‐DONATION HYPOTHESIS IN AN EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION OF ASCLEPIAS EXALTATA by SB Broyles, R Wyatt – Evolution, 1995 – Wiley Online Library