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Trillium

Scientific Name(S): Trillium erectum L. Family: Liliaceae (Trilliaceae). T. grandiflorum (Michaux) Salisb. has also been used medicinally in American traditional medicine.

Common Name(S): Trillium, birthroot, beth root, Indian balm, purple trillium, stinking Benjamin, wake-robin, trillium pendulum, ground lily, cough root, jewsharp, snake bite

Botany

Trillium grows abundantly in the southern Appalachians. T. erectum is a low-growing perennial that reaches a height of about 18 inches. It has 3 dark green diamond-shaped leaves, each about 7 inches long. From April to June it produces a solitary odiferous, reddish brown flower. The smell is the reason for the name stinking Benjamin. The flower produces an oval reddish berry.

Uses

Trillium has been used to stop postpartum bleeding, although there are no studies to support this use. It may also playa role in the topical control of bleeding and relief from insect bites.

Side Effects

Although not yet clinically observed, trillium could have potential membrane-irritating effects and induce some cardiac activity.

History

Birthroot is a popular folk remedy for bleeding, snakebites, and skin irritations. Teas made from the plant had been used traditionally to stop bleeding following childbirth, hence the name birth root. The Indians applied topical preparations to relieve insect bites and skin irritations. The leaves have been used as a potherb or salad green.

Chemistry

Little is known about the chemistry of this plant. Trillium species have been reported to contain a fixed and volatile oil, a saponin (trillarin, which is a diglycoside of diosgenin), a glycoside resembling convallamarin, tannic acid, and considerable starch.

Summary

Trillium has a long history of use in traditional medicine for the management of bleeding particularly following childbirth. There are no studies to support this use. The chemistry of trillium is not well defined, but the tannin content may playa role in the topical control of bleeding and the relief from insect bites that the plant is said to afford.


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