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Abscess Root: Facts, Benefits, Side Effects, And Precautions

Abscess Root, scientifically known as Polemoniumreptans is a medicinal herb that is used in reducing fever and inflammation. The abscess root herb is used as an astringent and also as an expectorant (helps to relieve chest congestion). The roots of the herb are ground and used as a medicinal tea.

Abscess Root

What is Abscess Root?

Abscess root is an herb which belongs to the family Polemoniaceae. It is a native plant of eastern part of north America and it often grows along the shady river banks that pass through the forests, in woods and damp grounds. It also produces small bunches of blue flowers.

The abscess root is slightly bitter and acrid in taste. It is most commonly known as ‘false Jacob’s ladder’ due to its astringent activity, which is similar to Jacob’s ladder (another plant). Some of the other names of abscess root are- Bluebells, American Greek Valerian, and Sweatroot.

Plant Description:

Abscess root grows to nearly 25 cm long. Its thin rhizome produces numerous stems, which are thin, pale, glabrous, and brittle. The glabrous stems have plenty of branches that bear opposite or alternate leaves with either 6 or 7 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets may be oval or ovate shaped.

The flowers of abscess root are produced during mid to late spring. The flowers appear to be bell-shaped and are approximately half an inch long. The flowers are blue, lavender, purple, pink or white and their petals are fused at the base. The flowers of abscess root are edible. The flowering period of abscess root plant is from April to June.

About 1 to 2-inch long slender rootstock is dried and used as the drug. The rootstocks have numerous stems on the upper surface and smooth, slender, brittle roots on the underside.

Propagation of Abscess Root:

The seeds of abscess root are sowed in the spring season. When the saplings are large enough to handle, they are transferred to individual pots and grown in the greenhouse. Later, if the plants are to be grown outside the greenhouse, they are shifted outside in early summers.

Abscess root is mostly cultivated in moist, well-drained, fertile soil under sunlight or semi-shade. These plants should be allowed to dry during summers. Abscess root plants can multiply very easily as they have creeping roots. The smell of these plants attracts cats, who can then cause damage to the young plants.

Also Read: Uses of Tulsi (Holy Basil): Benefits and Supplements

Quick facts on Abscess Root

  • Abscess root (Polemonium reptans) is deer resistant
  • The flowers of abscess root herb are hermaphrodites (which have both male and female sexual characteristics)
  • The flowers of abscess root are edible and can be used in salads.

Benefits of Abscess Root

The most common uses of abscess root include:

  • The dried roots of abscess root are used as an astringent, expectorant, and diaphoretic
  • Abscess root eases the symptoms of febrile and inflammatory problems
  • It can be used as a tincture with alcohol or as an infusion with water
  • Abscess root is used internally for the treatment of:
    1. Common cold and cough
    2. Bronchitis
    3. Laryngitis
    4. Inflammatory diseases
    5. Tuberculosis
    6. Skin diseases
    7. Poisonous bites

The Recommended Intake of Abscess Root

Although there is no specific and appropriate range of doses for abscess root, it should be used as directed by the healthcare professional. The dosage of abscess root depends on certain factors, such as age, current health and medical history of an individual.

Approximately, 5-8 oz of abscess root liquid is recommended to relieve respiratory problems. There is no sufficient data that determines the exact dosage for abscess root. However, it can be taken as:

  • 1 to 2 fluid ounces for two to three times a day.
  • 3 – 6 grams of abscess root itself
  • 5 – 10 drops of the extract either once or twice in a day
  • 10 – 15 drops of tincture, which is to be taken 1 to 3 times in a day

It is not advisable to use abscess root in children, pregnant, as well as breastfeeding women as its safety in such populations has not been established.

Side effects of Abscess Root

Abscess root can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, which may result in symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Gastrointestinal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Precautions of Abscess Root

  • Avoid using abscess root during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Abscess root may result in minor side effects, such as sneezing and gastrointestinal problems


  1. Where does the abscess root grow?

Abscess root grows in lower wooded slopes, shaded banks of the rivers and streams, deciduous woods, at the bottoms of the sandstone canyons and bases of bluffs.

  1. Which type of soil is suitable for the growth of abscess root?

Abscess root is grown in moist, humus, well-drained and sandy soil.

  1. How is abscess root used for hair?

The decoction of abscess root is used as a hair rinse in patients with conditions, such as psoriasis and scrofulous.

  1. How does abscess root act as a diaphoretic?

Abscess root acts as a diaphoretic by producing excessive sweating when the temperature in the surroundings is more than the body temperature.

  1. Which part of the abscess root plant is used for the medicinal purpose?

Dried roots and rhizome of an abscess root plant are used for the medicinal purpose.

  1. How is the astringent property of abscess root useful?

The astringent properties of abscess root help to relieve bowel complaints.

  1. How does abscess root work as an expectorant?

Abscess root helps to loosen the bronchial secretions and promotes easy flow and elimination of the sputum(phlegm).

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