There are many historical Joe Pye Weed uses and there are nearly as many stories as to its origin. We’ll provide a brief history of the herb and its original uses, its medicinal benefits, and also share how to make a tea using this medicinal herb.
The Origins of the Name
The common name “Joe-Pye weed” has been applied to many plants in the Eutrochium genus, which are members of the aster family (Asteraceae). Accounts have differed widely regarding the origin of this plant’s name. It is said that the plant was named after a Native American healer who used it to treat typhus, but many have disagreed on which man this plant was named for, and when and where he lived. Research indicates that the label “Joe-Pye weed” may have come from a nickname for Joseph Shauquethqueat, an 18th- and early 19th-century Mohican sachem who lived in New York State during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Although there is some disagreement about how Joe Pye Weed got its name, one thing everyone can agree on is that the name is attributed to the Native Americans, who first used it. It’s also undisputed that it was the Native Americans who helped the Europeans who came to the New World by sharing their knowledge of medicinal herbs and other plants. And while Europeans had commonly used herbs at home, they were not familiar with many of the plants they found in America.
Historical Joe Pye Weed Uses
There has been a long history of Joe Pye Weed uses. Joe Pye Weed was used by many Native American tribes as a healing herb used to treat many ailments and in spiritual practices. It was later introduced and used by white settlers.
This plant has been used as a natural medicine for centuries and can treat many ailments. No matter what variety, the leaves, roots, and flowers are all used for healing purposes. Tea made from the roots, leaves, and flowers is used as a diuretic and for rheumatism, gout, fevers, diarrhea, respiratory disorders, impotence, and kidney or bladder stones.
Our ancestors lived in plant-based cultures and had many healing traditions. Plants and herbal medicines were woven into their daily lives. These traditions were a source of joy and sustenance as well as allies in healing.
Today's Joe Pye Weed Uses & Health Benefits
Joe Pye weed contains flavonoids and euparin, which can help fight free radicals. These compounds help to prevent many serious health conditions. The active ingredient in Joe Pye weed root extract has been named euparin.
Some Joe Pye weed uses are to correct or prevent the following health problems:
- Urinary tract issues: The root of this plant can be boiled to make a traditional remedy for kidney stones, painful urination, and bladder infections.
- Gallstones: Joe Pye weed is used to dissolve existing gallstones and stop the formation of new ones.
- Fevers: One of the earliest uses for Joe Pye weed was as a fever reducer, and it still works for that purpose today.
How to Harvest and Store Joe Pye Weed
The leaves and flower blooms should be harvested during the summer before the flower buds begin to open. Dry the plant by hanging it upside-down in a dry place and store it for later use.
Harvest the roots in the fall, then chop and dry them for long-time storage. I use a food dehydrator for this, but an oven on its lowest setting should also do the trick. Use the dried roots, leaves, or flowers to make herbal tea.
Medicinal Tea Preparation
Joe Pye weed has a sweet aroma much like that of vanilla. A root decoction has a flavor reminiscent of old hay with a hint of bitterness.
Tea can be prepared using dried roots, leaves, or flowers.
To prepare Joe Pye Weed root tea, steep 1 ounce dried and crushed root in 1 pint of boiling water for 30 minutes and drink ½ cup at a time.
Prepare Joe Pye Weed flower or leaf tea by pouring 8 ounces of boiling water over 1 teaspoon dried flowers or leaves. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain out flowers or leaves and sweeten with a little honey, if desired.
As you can see, Joe Pye Weed is a very interesting herb for a very interesting array of uses. While it does seem to be declined in popularity, there are quite a few people who still use this herb today. But perhaps the best way to learn about the herb and its uses is to study them on one’s own.
Use with caution. This plant contains unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which if used in high doses or for extended periods of time can be toxic to the liver and may cause intestinal problems. Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Avoid use with children.
Disclaimer- I am not a medical professional. All information shared here is for information and entertainment only. Do your own research and consult your health care provider before treating yourself with any product, plant or mixture.
Pearce, Richard B. and Pringle, James S. “JOE PYE, JOE PYE’S LAW,AND JOE-PYE-WEED:.” THE GREAT LAKES BOTANIST (2017): 177-200.