Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
Gravel root’s latin name is Eutrochium purpureum, though you are more likely to find it labeled Eupatorium purpureum, which is one of its synonyms; the other is Eupatoriadelphus purpureus. It is also known as Joe-Pye weed, kidney root, purple boneset, Queen of the meadow, sweet Joe-Pye weed, sweet-scented Joe-Pie weed and trumpet weed. It is closely related to thoroughwort, which is also sometimes called boneset.
The name “Joe Pye” was given to the plant after a New England native American of that name who apparently used it to cure typhus fever.
Gravel root is native to the Eastern United States, and is a large plant which can reach a height of 10 feet (3m) if happy. A large plant looks stately and quite magnificent, living up to its alternative name Queen of the Meadow. It requires moist, well drained soil but is otherwise unfussy as to type. It will grow anywhere not in full shade. Propagation is by seed sown in spring or division of existing plants in spring or fall. Harvest flower buds and leaves in spring, roots in fall and dry for later use.
The part usually used is the rootstock, though the above ground parts also have medicinal properties, instructions for preparation follow. The dosage in both cases is up to 240 ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) a day, split into 3 doses.
You can also make a standard infusion using 3 handfuls of fresh herb or 30g (1 ounce) of dried to a pint of boiling water. Leave to stand for between 15 minutes and 4 hours, then strain off the herb and discard.
Gravel root is useful for cystitis, gout, kidney stones and other kidney problems, rheumatoid arthritis, urethritis and other urinary disorders, and as a diuretic and general tonic. It was an important native American treatment to reduce fevers.
As with all medicinal plants, gravel root must be grown organically to avoid corruption of its essential ingredients by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic gravel root visit the Gardenzone, where it’s called Sweet Joe Pye weed.