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Beth Root Herb - Dosage and Useful Properties

ALTERNATIVE NAMES: BIRTHROOT, COUGHROOT, GROUND LILY, INDIAN BALM, INDIAN SHAMROCK, PLANT, PURPLE TRILLIUM, SNAKEBITE, SQUAW ROOT, TRILLIUM PENDULUM, WAKE-ROBIN

Taxonomic Class

Liliaceae

Common Trade Names

Multi-ingredient preparations: Trillium Complex

Common Forms

Available as liquid extract, powder, and powdered root.

Source

The active agents of beth root are derived from the dried rhizomes, roots, and leaves of Trillium erectum, a low-lying perennial member of the lily family, which grows in Canada and eastern and central United States.

Chemical Components

The chemical composition of T. erectum is not well documented. The plant is reported to contain tannic acids, oxalates, a cardiotonic glycoside similar to convallamarin, and a saponin called trillarin (a diglycoside of diosgenin). Diosgenin may be chemically converted to pregnenolone and progesterone.

Actions

Beth root is reported to have antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, local irritant, and tonic properties, probably because of its tannic acid content. The plant is also reported to act as a uterine stimulant, which may be attributed to the diosgenin component. Some components of other Trillium species have antifungal properties .

Reported Uses

Trillium Complex is used in Australia to treat menorrhagia. The dried rhizome is used by some herbalists as a uterine stimulant. Beth root is a popular cure for bleeding, skin irritations, and snakebite. It has been used as an antidiarrheal, an astringent to reduce topical irritation, and a tonic expectorant.

Dosage

Various dosages have been used, including 1 tbsp of powder in 1 pt of boiling water taken "freely in wineglassful doses;' 1 dram of powdered root P.O. , or 30 minims of liquid extract as an astringent or a tonic expectorant. t.i.d.

Adverse Reactions

CV: potential cardiotoxicity (convallamarin -like glycoside).

GI: GI irritation, vomiting (oxalates and saponins).

Interactions

Antiarrhythmics (such as digitalis): May increase or antagonize effects of some antiarrhythmics. Avoid administration with beth root.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using beth root in pregnant patients because of reported uterine stimulant properties.

Special considerations

Monitor for GI irritation and nausea. Treat symptomatically if these effects occur and consider discontinuation of beth root.

Caution the patient taking drugs for a cardiac condition to avoid use of beth root because of its potential to influence cardiac function.

Advise women to avoid using beth root during pregnancy.

Commentary

Beth root has been used as a folk remedy to promote parturition and control postpartum bleeding as well as to treat skin irritation, snakebites, and many other problems, but there is little clinical or scientific evidence to support these claims. The chemistry and dosage range of beth root have been poorly documented. Controlled animal and human studies are needed before beth root or its constituents can be considered medically useful.

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