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Botanical Description & Habitat

Stillingia sylvatica


Common Names
Queen's delight        Queen's root
Yaw root        Cockup hat
Marcory        Silver leaf

Virginia, Florida and Texas

Medicinal Parts
Root, gathered in August

Historical Properties & Uses

Stillingia is a North American plant following its introduction to medicine in 1828, became the alterative and blood purifier of choice among the eclectic physicians of that century. Stillingia was hailed by many, but not all of these doctors, as the best treatment for syphilis known.

Gradually, as its other properties were substantiated, stillingia gained acceptance as a treatment for tuberculosis and cancer, along with other conditions for which an alterative could be recommended, especially skin ailments.

Indians of the Southern United States used stillingia for venereal disease before the whites became aware of it. Stillingia root was official in the USA from 1831 to 1926, and in the National Formulary from 1926-1947, much longer and later in both volumes than many of the better-known medicinal plants.

Stillingia is also used as a cathartic, diuretic and emetic. It may cause vomiting and diarrhea in large doses. Stillingia was one of the major herbs in the Hoxey anti-cancer formula.

In homeopathy, stillingica is used in secondary and tertiary syphilis.

Method of Action

The Pharmacology of Stillingia
Stillingia contains 3-4% volatile oil, an acrid resin, acrid fixed oil and 10-12% tannin. Combination of tannin acid resin and the right volatile oil could be very toxic to certain micro-organisms (as in syphilis, many skin problems - even cancer).

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes Stillingia as a sialagogue, expectorant, diaphoretic, dermatological agent, astringent, spasmolytic, and cathartic in large doses, for use in the treatment of bronchitis, laryngitis, laryngismus stridulus, cutaneous eruptions, hemorrhoids and constipation. Specific indications include exudative skin eruptions with irritation and lymphatic involvement, and laryngismus stridulus.

Stillingia is combined with burdock root, yellow dock root, blue flag and fumitory in cutaneous eruptions; with lobelia, bloodroot, anise, and eucalyptus in laryngismus stridulus and in bronchitis.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Known Interactions
Stillingia, insofar as its diuretic action, increases the renal excretion of sodium and chloride, may potentiate the hyperglycemic and hyperuremic effects of glucose elevating agents.

In sub-laxative and sub-emetic doses, stillingia should have no drug interactions. At higher doses, interactions similar to those involving diuretics and cathartics may occur.

Stillingia, due to its cathartic activity, may potentiate anticoagulant therapy by reducing absorption of vitamin K from the gut. It may also inhibit absorption of dextrose from the intestines.

Stillingia may increase intestinal transit time of digitalis glycosides, inhibit their absorption and cardiac action. But cathartic-induced hypokalmia increases toxicity and potency of absorbed digitalis. Cathartic-induced hypokalemia potentiates muscle relaxants. In addition to the specific interactions listed, the cathartic action of stillingia tends to hasten the passage of all oral medications through the gut and thereby inhibit their action.

Possible Interactions
Use of diuretics may require dosage adjustments of antidiabetic drugs.

The topical application of this astringent herb, in conjunction with the acne product tretinoin (retinoic acid, vitamin A acid) may adversely affect the skin.

The tannin in stillingia may potentiate the antibiotic activity of echinacea. The tannin in a tea made from this herb may be inactivated by the addition of milk or cream.

Laxative-induced diarrhea may result in decreased absorption of isoniazid or sulfisoxazole, but it appears to be clinically unimportant.

Laxative induced increased speed of intestinal emptying may result in decreased absorption of vitamin K and/or anticoagulants.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

It is said, internal use of stillingia may cause irritation and symptoms of poisoning, but these actions have not been verified.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia suggests, stillingia stored for more than 2 years should not be used, and further, stillingia is a skin irritant, and the powder sternutatory.

Preparation & Administration

Use three times daily

Use 1-2g of dried root

Liquid Extract
Use 0.5-2ml of 1:1 in 25% alcohol

Use 1-4ml of 1:5 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.