Medicinal Herbs used in Wildcrafted Herbal Products' Therapeutic Creams and Compounds

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Medicinal Herb: Black Root (Leptandra virginica)

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this page is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this page should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The claims made about specific products throughout this article are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.


This tall, herbaceous perennial was included by Linnaeus in the genus Veronica, but was later assigned by Nuttall to the genus Leptandra, a nomenclature followed by present-day botanists.

Black Root is a native of North America. It was introduced to European herbalism via the Seneca Indians. The slender, simple stem grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet from a horizontal, woody rootstock. The lanceolate, finely serrate leaves grow in whorls of four to seven; and the numerous white flowers grow in panicled spikes. The fruit is an oblong-ovate, flattened, many-seeded capsule. The root should be dug up in the autumn and stored for a year before use.



Black Root

Biological Name:
Leptandra virginica


Other Names:
Culvers Root, Culvers Physic, Physic Root, Veronicastrum virginica, black root, tall speedwell, tall veronica, beaumont root, leptandra, hini, oxadoddy, whorlywort

Parts Used:
Rhizome and root.

Active Compounds: 
Active constituents are largely unknown. However it is known to contain:
Volatile oil with esters of cinnamic acid, methoxycinnamic acid and dimethoxycinnamic acid
Mannitol, dextrose, tannin etc.

Traditional Application in Herbal Medicine:
Cholagogue, cathartic, hepatic, emetic, laxative, diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic. The dried root is milder and less potent. Leptandrin excites the liver gently and promotes the secretion of bile without irritating the bowels or purging. As it is also a tonic for the stomach, it is very useful in diarrhoea, chronic dysentery, cholera infantum, and torpidity of the liver.

Black Root is used as a reliever of liver congestion and for an inflamed gall-bladder (cholecystitis). When jaundice is due to liver congestion, Black Root is used for its treatment. Chronic constipation can often be due to a liver dysfunction, in which case this herb is also ideal.

Kings Dispensatory describes its specific indications and uses as Drowsiness, dizziness, and mental depression, with tenderness and heavy pain in the hepatic region, the tongue is coated markedly white, the skin is yellow, there is a bitter taste, cold extremities, nausea and dull frontal headache; thirst, with inability to drink; restlessness, with insomnia; diarrhea, with half-digested passages, or clay-colored evacuations; enfeebled portal circulation, with lassitude and gloomy and depressed mental state.

Other indications include:
  • Powerful purgative and emetic (fresh root!); also bitter, alterative, antiseptic, laxative, digestive system tonic, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, stimulates production of bile from gall bladder, liver relaxant.
  • Has a long history of Native America usage to induce vomiting.
  • Used internally for chronic constipation (often combined with Sweet flag and Goldenseal when accompanied by bloating and flatulence), indigestion related to liver disorders (often combined with dandelion and barberry), and for gall bladder inflammation (for gall bladder pain a poultice is applied over the affected area; also duodenal indigestion and chronic indigestion as a result of bile deficiency. Another combination which has been used for nonspecific liver problems is 1 oz Blackroot, 2 oz Goldenseal, 2 oz Senna, and 2 pints boiling water, combined and simmered until reduced to 1 pint; 2 tbsp were taken 3 or 4 times daily.
  • Has been used to cleanse intestines and liver of excessive mucous (small doses are taken gradually as large doses are purgative).
  • Has been used for enteritis and dysentery (combined with Rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum) and given in small doses of decoction every 3 hours).
  • Has been combined with Quinine and Fringe tree to assist recovery from post-viral syndrome
Decoction: Put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb in a cup of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Take one cup three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.
Combinations : Black Root will combine well with Barberry and Dandelion. For hemorrhoids combine with Stone Root

Do not use the fresh root. It is toxic. Use only dried root.

Caution should be exercise when using this herb. It contains eptandrin, a very strong purgative and emetic. Use only with medical supervision. Do not drink more than a cup of the tea per day.

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