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Skunk cabbage

Generic Name: Symplocarpus

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Alkaloids, Araceae (family), caffeic acid, calcium oxalate, Col apestosa, Dracontium, Dracontium foetidum L, eastern skunk cabbage, fatty oil, flavonol glycosides, Indian potato, meadow cabbage, n-hydroxytryptamine, narcotic, Orontium, phenolic compounds, pole-cat cabbage, polecatweed, Spathyema foetida, swamp cabbage, Symplocarpus, Symplocarpus foetidus, Symplocarpus renifolius, tannin.

Note: This monograph covers only eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), not western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum).

Background

Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), or skunk cabbage, is closely related to western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum). Although very similar, these swamp-growing plants do not belong to the same genus. Skunk cabbage is predictably named for the foul smelling oil produced by the plant. Care must be taken in preparation of skunk cabbage, as the large amounts of calcium oxylate in all parts of the plant may cause excruciating pain upon ingestion.

Skunk cabbage is used to promote labor and treat dropsy (edema). The flower essence of the plant is also indicated to "move stagnated energy." In addition to its medicinal properties, skunk cabbage is boiled and eaten by Native Americans as a famine food.

Currently, there is a lack of available scientific evidence supporting the use of skunk cabbage for any indication.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: 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.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antispasmodic, asthma, bleeding, bronchitis, bruises, cancer, catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membrane), chorea (involuntary muscle movement), convulsions, cough, dental caries, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diuretic, dropsy (swelling), edema, emetic (induces vomiting), epilepsy, expectorant, fever, food uses, hay fever, headache, hemorrhage (bleeding), hysteria, insecticide, labor induction, narcotic, parasites and worms, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, skin sores, snakebite, stimulant (gastrointestinal), swelling, toothache, vertigo, whooping cough, wounds.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for skunk cabbage. In general, 0.5-1 milligrams of powdered rhizome/root, three times daily mixed with honey or by infusion or decoction has been traditionally used. A liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) 0.5-1 milliliters or tincture (1:10 in 45% alcohol) 2-4 milliliters three times daily has also been traditionally used.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for skunk cabbage in children, and use is not recommended.

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