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Lady's Slipper

Lady's Slipper

Botanical Description & Habitat

Cypripedium pubescens, c. spp.


Common Names

American valerianBleeding heart
Moccasin flowerMonkey flower
Nerve rootNoah's ark
Slipper rootVenus shoe
Yellow ladyslipperYellows

Native to the woods and meadows of North America.

Medicinal Parts
Rootstock, dried

Historical Properties & Uses

Lady's slipper is used to relax with. It is commonly brewed up at the end of a tough day to help relax the nerves, get rid of nervous headaches, overcome insomnia and similar problems. Hence it is often called nerve root. It is more of a tonic, than a nervine, however. Lady's slipper is often used to relieve cramps and muscle spasms, knotted up muscles, pain between the shoulder blades and other "uptight" symptoms.

Method of Action

The Pharmacology of Lady's Slipper
Lady's slipper contains liberal amounts of volatile oil, resins, tannins, and glucosides. Not much is known about the individual nature of the components and so we are unable to determine if folklore claims are in any way valid.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes Lady's slipper as a sedative, mild hypnotic, spasmolytic and thymoleptic, for use in the treatment of insomnia, hysteria, emotional tension, anxiety states and any combination of the above. It is combined with oats and skullcap in anxiety neurosis, and with hops in insomnia with depression.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Lady's slipper should not be used with methotrimeprazine, a potent CNS depressant analgesic.

The antacid nature of this herb may decrease or delay the absorption of nalidixic acid and the sulfonamides.

Due to the spasmolytic nature of lady's slipper it may interact in unknown ways with CNS depressants or stimulants.

The neuromuscular relaxing action of this herb may be enhanced by the use of certain aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as clindamycin.

In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in lady's slipper.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

It is impossible to objectively evaluation the likelihood, or even the nature of, possible side effects. Any herb possessing nervous system active components will become the source of exaggerated stories. Thus, some say it contains narcotics, and large doses will paralyze the brain, cause psychedelic trances, giddiness, and hallucinations. Since most herbalists agree Lady's slipper is less powerful than valerian root, the probability of side effects is very small.

Preparation & Administration

Use three times daily

use 2-4g dried rhizome or root

Liquid Extract
use 2-4ml in 45% alcohol

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.


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