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Dogbane / Indian Hemp
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A VARIETY OF DOGBANES
Apocynum, commonly known as dogbane and Indian hemp, is a genus of the plant family of the Apocynaceae with seven species. The genus occurs throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, except for western Europe. It is also milkweed's lookalike. Apocynum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the mouse moth.
Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane)
Apocynum cannabinum (dogbane or Indian hemp; North America)
Apocynum hendersonii (northern Asia)
Apocynum medium (intermediate dogbane)
Apocynum pictum (Chinese dogbane; Eastern Asia)
Apocynum sibiricum (Siberian dogbane; northern Asia)
Apocynum venetum (European dogbane; Eastern Europe, Asia)
Apocynum cannabinum was used as a source of fiber by Native Americans. Apocynum venetum is used as an herbal tea in China.
Apocynum is also known as Apocynum cannabinum, Dogbane, Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows throughout much of North America, in the southern half of Canada and throughout the United States. It is a poisonous plant: The common name, Dogbane, refers to the plant's toxic nature, which means "poisonous to dogs". Apocynum means "Away dog"" and cannabinum means "like hemp," in reference to the strong cordage that was made by weaving together the stem's long fibers. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested. The cannabinum in the scientific name and the common names Hemp Dogbane and Indian Hemp refer to its similarity to Cannabis as a fiber plant, rather than as a source of a psychoactive drug as found in Marijuana (Cannabis sativa). Although dogbane is poisonous to livestock, it likely got its name from its resemblance to a European species of the same name. Other common names Indian Hemp Dogbane, Black Hemp, Black Indian Hemp, Canadian Hemp, American Hemp, Bowmans Root, Bitterroot, Indian-physic, Rheumatism Weed, Milkweed, Choctaw Root, and General Marion's Weed.
Apocynum cannabinum grows in open wooded areas, ditches, and hillsides throughout the United States. It prefers moist places and grows up to 5 to 6 feet in height. The stems are reddish and contain a milky latex sap when bruised or broken is capable of causing skin blisters. The leaves are arranged opposite along the stem, simple broad lanceolate, entire margins (meaning the leaf's edges are smooth, not notched or toothed, ovate or elliptic, 2 to 5 inches long, 0.5 to 1.5 inches wide–15 cm long and 3–5 cm wide, and smooth on top with white hairs on the underside. The leaves have short petioles (stems) and are sparingly pubescent or lacking hairs beneath. The lower leaves have stems while the upper leaves may not. The leaves turn yellow in the fall, then drop off. The stems lack hairs and often have a reddish-brown tint when mature, becoming woody at the base and are much-branched in the upper portions of the plant. The flowers blooms are first produced in late spring to mid summer and continue into late summer. With large sepals, and a five-lobed white corolla, the flowers are small, white to greenish-white, and produced in terminal clusters (cymes). The flower is 1/4 inch wide. The flowers are borne in dense heads followed later by the slender, pointed pods which are about 4 inches in length. Many small insect pollinators, such as wasps and flies, pollinate the flowers. The fruit is long, 5 inches or more, narrow follicles produced in pairs (one from each ovary) that turns reddish-brown when mature and develop into two long pods containing numerous seed with tufts of silky white hairs at their ends. The roots of these plants many be found growing as colonnies due to a long horizontal rootstock that developes from an initial taproot.
Identifying characteristics include the milky sap secreted when stems and leaves are broken. Sprouts emerging from the underground horizontal rootstock may be confused with Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) emerging shoots. But note that they are not related to milkweeds, despite the milky sap and the similar leaf shape and growth habit. The flower shape is quite unlike that of milkweed flowers and the leaves of hemp dogbane are much smaller than those of common milkweed. When mature, these native plants may be distinguished by the branching in the upper portions of the plant that occurs in hemp dogbane, and also the smaller size of hemp dogbane compared to Common milkweed.
Habitat and range is widespread in temperate areas from New England to Florida, parts of the southeast, Texas to California and north to British Columbia. Dogbane is a native of this country and may be found in thickets and along the borders of odd fields throughout the United States. Hemp dogbane occurs under moist conditions. Grows in average, dry to medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Commonly is found in gravelly or sandy fields, riparian areas, in meadows, along creek beds, irrigation ditches, hillside seeps, and fence lines in cultivated pastures. New plants begin growing in late spring or early summer. They typically grown from sea-level to about 7,000 feet elevation.
Apocynum is an invasive species in gardens, growing from spreading roots. When growing among corn, Apocynum cannabinum can reduce yields by up to 10 percent and when growing among soybeans, by up to 40 percent. It can be controlled through mechanical means, although it is difficult to control with herbicides.
APOCYNUM USES, HEALTH BENEFITS & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
A VARIETY OF USES
Apocynum or Hemp dogbane is known for its use as cordage. Before domestic cotton was introduced and cultivated in the Southwest, around 700 A.D., leaf and stem fibers, hair or wool from dogs or wild animals, bird feathers, animal skins, or human hair were used to create prehistoric cordage. Dogbane fibers have been found in some archeological sites thousands of years old.
Apocynum cannabinum was used as a source of fiber by Native Americans. It was used to make hunting nets, fishing lines, clothing, and twine. The native people from many nations in North America produced various useful items from the hemp fibers. They made cordage and thread from the plant with no other equipment than their hands and thighs. Fibers of the dogbane plant were rolled together to make a functional material stronger than cotton. The twine was excellent for making fishing lines and nets because it keeps its strength under water and does not shrink. It was also used in the manufacture of many other items, including deer and rabbit nets, slings for hunting small game, nooses for snaring grouse and other game birds, hide stretchers, bowstrings, moccasins, clothing, straps and tumplines, woven bedding for baby cradles, wheels used in a type of dart game, carrying nets, and cat-tail mats.
The stems were harvested late fall, after frosts have caused the sap to drop into the plant's perennial rootbase, and the leaves turn to yellow and fall from the stem. At this stage, the reddish-brown stalk becomes stiff and can easily be clipped from the rootbase flush to the ground. Dogbane stalks were also collected in winter, when the stalks are dry and brittle. Dry stalks are easiest to work, but if allowed to stand in the field through the winter and into spring, the fibers weaken. The harvested plants were bundled by the lower ends for carrying.
The cordage fibers are found in a layer between the thin outer skin and the woody, hollow center of the stem. Carefully scraping with a shell, an obsidian flake, chert spall, or deer rib removed the outer bark from the fibers. The top spreading branches were trimmed off and the stems were flattened between the fingers into four pieces. They were then split open from bottom to top. The length of brittle, woody core was broken into 2 inch pieces and pulled off the fibers by hand until all of the woody material was removed. Then the process of rubbing and rolling the hemp between the hands helped clear away any other skin that still clinged to the fibers. Not everyone scraped the dogbane first. Paiute people and others simply split and broke the dry stalks without scraping, and removed all the outer bark by rubbing. Dogbane and other bast fibers can also be soaked (called retting) to release the fibers. Retting was used when the bark adhered more tightly to the fibers.
The dogbane fibers were made into twine by twisting and rolling them with the hand on the bare thigh. The hands were kept damp to increase the friction. More stem fibers were joined together by splicing. The short end that needed splicing was overlapped with the new addition of fibers, then rolled together until they were intertwined. An average plant yields about 2.5 feet of fiber, but one fourth of this is lost in the splicing process. By splicing the stems together, a continuous length of twine could be produced. A strong rope could be made by plying several lengths of twine together. A good Indian hemp rope is said to have the equivalent strength of a modern hemp rope with a breaking point of several hundred pounds. The twine would keep for many years if stored in a dry place.
In drier, more open areas, dogbane grows shorter (two or three feet), with more branches. In dense streambank thickets, the stems grow much longer and with fewer side branches, and are therefore more desirable for cordage. Different sizes of stalks and different growing conditions yield different colored fibers.
Apocynum cannabinum is a phytoremediation plant, a hyperaccumulator used to sequester lead in its biomass.
Apocynum (Dogbane) contains cymarin, a cardiogenic toxin that causes cardiac arrhythmia in humans. The plant is considered poisonous is not safe to use as an herbal remedy except by skilled herbal practitioners. In herbal medicine, it has been used to treat syphilis, rheumatism, intestinal worms, fever, asthma, and dysentery. Although the toxins from the plant can cause nausea and catharsis, it has been used for slowing the pulse, and it is also a sedative and mild hypnotic.
When used in systematic homeopathic dilutions, Apocynum Cannabinum is utilized in homeopathic medicine for various ailments. Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the principal that 'like cures like', in a tiny dilution - so the indications below are what a healthy person would feel if taking Apocynum Cannabinum. If your symptoms fit within the symptoms below, then Apocynum Cannabinum would be a good bet. The following are the strongest indications of Apocynum Cannabinum for its use in homeopathy. This information was obtained from Boericke's Materia Medica and a reversed Kent's repertory. Homeopathic remedies are not the same as herbal remedies.
Please remember though, this homeopathy materia medica is provided for information only, with no guarantee of accuracy; it is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, nor as a claim for the effectiveness of Apocynum Cannabinum in treating any of the symptoms below. If symptoms persist, seek professional medical advice - minor symptoms can often be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Homeopathic remedies are very dilute, and while the homeopathic remedy may be beneficial, the raw product may be harmful.
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian Hemp) increases secretions of mucous and serous membranes and acts on cellular tissue, producing oedema and dropsy and on skin causing diaphoresis. Acute hydrocephalus. A diminished frequency of the pulse is a prime indication. This is one of homeopathy's most efficient remedies, in dropsies, ascites, anasarca and hydrothorax, and urinary troubles, especially suppression and strangury. In the digestive complaints of Bright's disease, with the nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, difficult breathing, it will be found of frequent service. The dropsy is characterized by great thirst and gastric irritability. Arrhythmia. Mitral and tricuspid regurgitation. Acute alcoholism. Relaxation of sphincters.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Mind ailments: Bewildered. Low spirited.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Nose ailments: Long-continued sneezing. Snuffles of children (Sambucus). Chronic nasal catarrh with tendency to acute stuffiness with dull, sluggish memory. Dull headache. Takes cold easily, nostrils become congested and blocked up easily.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Stomach ailments: Nausea, with drowsiness. Thirst on walking. Excessive vomiting. Food or water is immediately ejected. Dull, heavy, sick feeling. Oppression in epigastrium and chest, impeding breathing (Lobelia infl). Sensation of sinking in stomach. Abdomen bloated. Ascites.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Stool ailments: Watery, flatulent, with soreness in anus; worse after eating. Feeling as if sphincter were open and stools ran right out.
Urine: Bladder much distended. Turbid, hot urine, with thick mucus and burning in urethra, after urinating. Little expulsive power. Dribbling. Strangury. Renal Dropsy.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Female ailments: Amenorrhoea, with bloating; metrorrhagia with nausea; fainting, vital depression. Haemorrhages at change of life. Blood expelled in large clots.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Respiratory ailments: Short, dry cough. Respiratory short and unsatisfactory. Sighing. Oppression about epigastrium and chest.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Heart ailments: Tricuspid regurgitation; rapid and feeble, irregular cardiac action, low arterial tension, pulsating jugulars, general cyanosis and general dropsy.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Sleep ailments: Great restlessness and little sleep.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Modalities ailments: Worse, cold weather; cold drinks; uncovering.
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Relationship ailments: Cymarin is the active principle of Apocyn, lowers pulse rate and increases blood-pressure. Strophanthus (extreme cardiac depression with intense gastric disturbance; dropsy). Aralia hispida-Wild Elder-a valuable diuretic, useful in dropsy of the cavities, either due to hepatic or renal disease with constipation. Urinary disorders, especially with dropsy. Scudder advises doses of five to thirty drops in sweetened cream of tartar, (Solution). Apis, Arsenic, Digital; Helleb.
APOCYNUM DOSAGE INFORMATION
Apocynum cannabinum treatment for Dose ailments: Tincture (ten drops three times daily) and in acute alcoholism 1 dram of decoction in 4 ounces of water.
Consult with a homeopathic practitioner for proper dosage for a particular ailment.
APOCYNUM SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Cymarin, a chemical found in the plant's roots, was used as a cardiac stimulant, and was listed until 1952 in the medicinal text United States Pharmacopoeia. The milky sap contains cardiac glycosides (a chemical compound derived from a simple sugar and is often of medicinal importance) that have physiologic actions similar to digitoxin. The toxic sap deters herbivores from feeding on the plant.
Normally, animals avoid hemp dogbane because of its bitter, sticky, milk-white juice. Sheep are more frequently affected than other animals, as they will eat large quantities of hemp dogbane leaves and tops if other forages are not available. This most often occurs when animals are turned onto harvested fields or on fall ranges when forage is scarce. Poisoning can also occur when livestock are trailed from summer to winter ranges and other forages are not available.
Although this plant is considered toxic to humans, the roots were commonly harvested in the 19th and early 20th centuries for a variety of folk medicine and medical purposes.
APOCYNUM SUPPLEMENTS & RELATED PRODUCTS
QUALITY PRODUCTS & SUPPLEMENTS
APOCYNUM HERBAL & HOMEOPATHIC PRODUCTS
HerbsPro: Blood Pressure Herb Tea, Health King, 20 Tea Bags
Blood Pressure Herb Tea (Apocynum H.B.P Herb Tea), with an excellent natural flavor, is made of wild apocynum venetum grown in a pollution-free area in northeast China. Apocynum contains rutin, glutamic acid, alanine, anthraquinone, etc., and is cardiotonic, diuretic, to dispel heat, used in Chinese medicine as a principal herb to maintain normal blood pressure and to strengthen the heart.
Kalyx: Apocynum Venetum, Plum Flower Brand, 100 Tabs: V (Special Order)
Kalyx: Dogbane Leaf 5:1 Extract Powder (Apocynum Venetum), Plum Flower Brand, 100 Grams: V (Special Order)
Kalyx: Dogbane Lea Whole (Apocynum Venetum; Luo Bu Ma), Plum Flower Brand, 500 Grams (1.17 lb.): V (Special Order)
Kalyx: Dogbane Leaf (Apocynum venetum Folium) Cut/Sifted, NuHerbs, 1 lb: TC
Amazon: Apocynum Cannabinum 12C, Boiron, 75 Pellets
Amazon: Apocynum Cannabinum 30C, Boiron, 75 Pellets
Amazon: Apocynum Venetum Leaf )Luo Bu Ma Ye) Concentrated Extract Powder-MW5103c, Plum Flower Brand
Amazon: Blood Pressure Herb Tea (Apocynum Venetum), Health King, 20 Tea Bags (Pack of 4)
Nutrition Basics: Apocynum Herbal & Homeopathic Information
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