Gravel root (Eupatorium fistulosum)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 5-Acetyl-6-hydroxy-2-(1-oxo-2-acetoxy-ethyl)-benzofuran, 6-hydroxy-3beta-methoxytrematone, agueweed, benzofurans, bitter principle, boneset, cistifolin, crosswort, euparin, euparoire rouge (French), euparone, eupatoire d’eau à tiges rouges (French), eupatoire pourpre (French), Eupatoriadelphus purpureus, eupatorin, Eupatorium, Eupatorium purpureum, Eupatorium ternifolium, Eupatorium verticillatum, eupurpurin, feverwort, flavonoids, gravelroot, gravelweed, green-stemmed joe-pye-weed, hempweed, herbe à la gravelle (French), Indian gravelroot, Indian sage, joe-pye, joe-pye weed, jopi weed, kidney root, kidneywort, king-of-the-meadow, maculatum, marsh-milkweed, motherwort, oleoresin, poskonnik purpurnyi (Russian), purple boneset, purple joe-pye-weed, Purpur-Wasserdost (German), queen of the meadow, queen-of-the-meadow root, quillwort, racine à la gravelle (French), resins, sesquiterpene lactone, slunkweed, sweating plant, sweet joe-pye-weed, tall boneset, tannins, teasel, thoroughwort, trifoliatum, trumpet weed, volatile oil.

Background

  • Gravel root is native to North America, growing from Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas. There are over 40 species, many of which are used in medicine.

  • Native Americans are believed to have used gravel root to increase urination and sweating, prevent or treat kidney and bladder stones, or reduce fever. It has also been used to treat bladder inflammation, swelling of the urethra, joint problems, and arthritis.

  • Use of gravel root is limited today due to a lack of scientific evidence.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abortion (prevention), amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), anti-inflammatory, arthritis, asthma, astringent (skin tightener), bladder disorders, bladder infections, cathartic (promote bowel movements), colds, constipation, cystitis (urinary bladder inflammation), diabetes, diaphoretic (promote sweating), diuretic (promote urination), dropsy (swelling), dysmenorrheal (painful menstruation), expectorant (thins mucus), fever, gout (joint inflammation), hematuria (bloody urine), infertility, influenza (flu), kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones, labor pain, laxative, liver (hepatic) congestion, lung congestion, menstrual pain, nervous system disorders, neuralgia (nerve pain), painful urination, prostate enlargement, rheumatism (joint disease), stimulant, typhus (bacterial disease), ulcers, urethritis (swelling of the urethra), urinary complaints, urinary incontinence (leakage of urine), uterine complaints.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Gravel root has been taken by mouth in the form of 0.5-1 dram of fluid extract, 3-5 grains of eupatorin, 2-4 grams of dried root or decoction, one teaspoon in a cup of water taken three times daily, 1-2 milliliters of tincture taken three times daily, 1-2 milliliters of 1:5 tincture in 40% alcohol, and 2-4 milliliters of 1:1 liquid extract in 25% alcohol.

  • To treat arthritis, the leaves and flowering stems of gravel root have been taken by mouth in an infusion.

  • To treat a lack of menstrual periods, a decoction of 2-4 fluid ounces of gravel root has been taken by mouth 3-4 times daily. For chronically absent periods, a dose of 1-30 drops of gravel root tincture has been applied vaginally every 1-4 hours.

  • To treat colds or the flu, a dose of five drops of gravel root tincture has been taken by mouth. Gravel root has also been taken by mouth in combination with other herbal mixtures containing elderflower and ground ivy.

  • To treat kidney problems, a dose of 1-2 fluid ounces or 5-15 drops of gravel root tincture has been taken by mouth three times daily. A dose of 5-10 drops of gravel root tincture has been taken with a teaspoon of water every three hours.

  • To treat liver problems, the leaves and flowering stems of gravel root have been taken by mouth in an infusion.

  • To manage menstrual or labor pain, a decoction containing 2-4 grams of dried gravel root has been taken by mouth.

  • To treat urinary incontinence during pregnancy, a dose of 1-2 drops of gravel root tincture has been taken by mouth every 2-3 hours.

  • To treat urinary infections, a decoction of 2-3 milliliters of gravel root tincture has been taken by mouth three times daily.

  • To promote uterine health, five drops of gravel root tincture have been taken by mouth three times daily.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • To treat urinary incontinence, five drops of gravel root have been taken by mouth three times daily.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to Eupatorium fistulosum, daisies, chrysanthemums, ragweed, their parts, or other plants in the Asteraceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Use cautiously in people who have dehydration, heart problems (irregular heartbeat), or known liver or kidney damage.

  • Use cautiously in people who drink moderate-to-high amounts of alcohol or who are taking diuretics, laxatives, or purgatives.

  • Use cautiously in children, elderly people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of information.

  • Gravel root may also cause changes in heart rhythm, dehydration, diarrhea, diuresis (increased urination), excessive sweating, liver damage, loss of potassium or other electrolytes, muscle weakness, and vomiting.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of gravel root during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

  • Avoid the use of gravel root unless approved by a doctor, due to the potential for nausea-related complications.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Gravel root may interact with drugs passed in the urine, alcohol, diuretics, and laxatives.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Gravel root may interact with herbs and supplements passed in the urine, diuretics, and laxatives.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Habtemariam, S. Antiinflammatory activity of the antirheumatic herbal drug, gravel root (Eupatorium purpureum): further biological activities and constituents. Phytother.Res. 2001;15(8):687-690. View Abstract
  2. Habtemariam, S. Cistifolin, an integrin-dependent cell adhesion blocker from the anti-rheumatic herbal drug, gravel root (rhizome of Eupatorium purpureum). Planta Med. 1998;64(8):683-685. View Abstract
  3. Tundis R, Loizzo MR, Statti GA, et al. Pyrrolizidine alkaloid profiles of the Senecio cineraria group (Asteraceae). Z.Naturforsch.C. 2007;62(7-8):467-472. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.