Euphorbia hirta-Pill-Bearing Spurge
Other names: Asthma Weed, Chamaesyce gemella, Chamaesyce karwinskyi, Desmonema hirta, Ditritea hirta, Euphorbia chrysochaeta, Euphorbia Spurge
Habitat: E. Asia – China, Japan, Himalayas. Waste places and cultivated fields in lowland Japan. Moist open places at elevations up to 1800 metres in Nepal.
The sap of Pill-bearing spurge 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 materia. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature. Adverse effects include: nausea, vomiting, allergic reactions.
Pill-bearing Spurge has a relaxing effect upon the smooth muscles of the lungs and acts with great benefit in conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. It can also relieve spasms in the larynx helping nervous coughs. It will help to relieve . Pill-bearing Spurge has a specific action of destroying the organisms that cause amoebic infections in the intestines. The sap is used fresh to treat warts.
Euphorbia hirta; Pill-Bearing Spurge, is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is frost tender. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil.
Cultivation of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
Prefers a light well-drained moderately rich loam in an open sunny position. The plant is not very tolerant of frost, though it can probably be grown successfully in this country as a spring-sown annual. Hybridizes with other members of this genus. The ripe seed is released explosively from the seed capsules. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. 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.
Propagation of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
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.
Collection of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
The aerial parts of the plant are harvested when in flower during the summer and can be dried for later use.
Culinary uses of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Tender young leaves and shoots – cooked as a vegetable. A famine food, used when all else fails and I would have to be very desperate to eat it even then as they are heavy going!
Anodyne, Anti-asthmatic, Anti-pruritic, Carminative, Diuretic, Febrifuge, Purgative, Vermifuge, Warts.
Part used: Aerial parts
Pill-bearing Spurge 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. It should not be used without expert guidance, however, since large doses cause gastro-intestinal irritation, nausea and vomiting. The plant is anodyne, antipruritic, carminative, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, galactogogue, purgative and vermifuge. The stem, taken internally, is famed as a treatment for asthma, bronchitis and various other lung complaints. The herb relaxes the bronchioles but apparently depresses the heart and general respiration. It is also used to treat intestinal amoebic dysentery. The whole plant is decoccoted and used in the treatment of athlete’s foot, dysentery, enteritis and skin conditions. The sap is applied to warts in order to destroy them.
Preparation and dosage of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the dried leaves; cover and leave to infuse for 10-15 mins. This should be drunk three times daily.
Tincture: 1-2 ml of the tincture three times daily.
Sap: Applied fresh to warts. The treatment needs to be repeated 2 – 3 times a day over a period of several weeks to be fully effective.
Combinations of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
It is usually used in combination with other anti-asthma herbs such as Grindelia camporum and Lobelia inflata.
Other uses of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
Esoteric uses of Pill-Bearing Spurge:
None known but if you use this plant for any purpose please let us know!
Glycoside, alkaloids, sterols, tannins, phorbic acid.