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From livestrong:

Homeopathic Remedy
Boneset is also available as a homeopathic remedy under its Latin name, Eupatorium perfoliatum. In his book "Materia Medica and Repertory," homeopath, Dr. William Boericke notes it is indicated for the flu when accompanied by high fever, severe body pain, headaches and orbital neuralgia, or eye socket pain. Eupatorium perfoliatum in both herbal and homeopathic form is considered safe when taken according to the directions from your health practitioner. Eupatorium perfoliatum is available over the counter from health food stores. Ask your health practitioner for dosing guidelines. Dengue fever should not be self treated.

From a Wilkes University paper:

The source of the common name of boneset is not clear. One proposition is that dengue fever (a mosquito-transmitted viral infection marked by muscle and bone pain), formally known as breakbone fever, was relieved by boneset (Innvista 2007). Another suggests that boneset is used by indigenous people to heal broken bones (Innvista 2007). In the early years of medicine, Eupatorium perfoliatum was placed on bandages of broken bones. The rationale behind this therapy was one of Doctrine of Signatures. The users believed that the jointed appearance of the leaves was an indication that this plant healed broken bones (Connecticut Botanical Society 2005). Boneset has also been shown to help treat wounds, cuts and other skin problems (Dweck 1997).

Wikipedia's page on Eupatorium includes:

Boneset alludes to the use of the plant to treat broken bones, although it may also come from its use to treat dengue fever, which was also called breakbone fever because of the pain that it caused. The name thoroughwort also comes from Eupatorium perfoliatum, and refers to the perfoliate leaves, in which the stem appears to pierce (i.e. go through, note that in older usage "thorough" was not distinguished from "through", compare for example the word thoroughfare) the leaf. Boneset, although poisonous to humans and grazing livestock, has been used in folk medicine, for instance to excrete excess uric acid which causes gout. Caution is advised when using boneset, since it contains toxic compounds that can cause liver damage. Side effects include muscular tremors, weakness, and constipation; overdoses may be deadly.

My questions are:

  • Can boneset/Eupatorium perfoliatum, homoeopathic or otherwise, cure dengue?
  • Was it ever used by indigenous people to treat dengue?
  • Even if it only has alleviating properties, does it require homoeopathic administration?
  • Is it authorised for medical use anywhere?
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A jumping off point for someone, but there has been a study that shows that E. perfoliatum has shown antiinflammatory properties in vitro. –  rob Feb 19 '13 at 18:01
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1 Answer

Boneset cannot 'cure' dengue fever, but it can certainly help. The Eupatorium genus is enormous, and a matter of some debate, but definitely contains the plants commonly known as boneset and feverwort, among other names. Boneset was probably never used to cure broken bones, as the literature supporting its use by indigenous peoples shows its use as an anti-fever agent. The plants themselves have shown anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, and anti-plasmodial effects. The name boneset itself almost certainly comes from its use to treat "bonebreak fever", or dengue fever.

When colonists arrived in the new world, boneset/feverwort was used to treat rheumatism and malaria, as well as the common cold and high fevers. The evidence conclusively supports use by colonists to treat dengue fever, but I cannot find specific evidence to support indigenous use to treat dengue fever. It is probable, but I cannot prove it. (Check D.A. Moerman- Native American Ethnobotany for more information)

Boneset does not require homeopathic administration, although homeopathic administrations have no side effects whatsoever, and there is no evidence for their efficacy. A (relatively) complete summary of compounds and their effects here.

I cannot find any chemical approved by the FDA sourced from Eupatorium, but a complete pharmacological inventory is, if it exists, proprietary.

This letter suggests that Eupatorium extracts are registered only under the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States(HPUS), and furthermore "the HPUS does not establish that it has been shown by appropriate means to be safe, effective, and not misbranded for its intended use."

Note also, that Eupatorium and related species can cause 'milk sickness'.

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Thank you and +1. While this sounds convincing, I'd appreciate some references verifying some of the claims (esp. those regarding its antiplasmodial benefits). –  coleopterist Aug 16 '13 at 18:33
    
Should the anti-inflammatory link point here instead? –  coleopterist Jan 6 at 4:51
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