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 Wild Indigo :
Herbal Medicine Materia Medica
Baptisia tinctoria


Names: Indigoweed

Habitat: Indigenous to Canada and the USA

Collection: The root is unearthed in the autumn after flowering has stopped. Clean the root and cut, dry well.

Part Used: Root.


  • Isoflavones; genistein, biochanin A etc
  • Flavonoids
  • Alkaloids such as cytisine
  • Coumarins
  • Polysaccharides
Actions: Anti-microbial, anti-catarrhal.

Indications: Wild Indigo is a herb to be considered wherever there is a focused infection. It is especially useful in the treatment ofinfections and catarrh in the ear, nose and throat. It may be used for laryngitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and catarrhalinfections of the nose and sinus. Taken both internally and as a mouthwash it will heal mouth ulcers, gingivitis and help in the control ofpyorrhea. Systematically it may be helpful in the treatment of enlarged and inflamed lymph glands (lymphadenitis) and also to reduce fevers. Externally an ointment will help infected ulcers and ease sore nipples. A douche of the decoction will help leucorrhoea.

Ellingwood has lot to say about this neglected remedy: "The agent has been widely used for many years by our practitioners in the treatment of typhoid conditions, and has established its position as an important remedy. It has an apparent dynamic influence upon the glandular structure of the intestinal canal, directly antagonizing disease influences here and re-enforcing the character of the blood, prevents the destruction of the red corpuscles and carries off waste material. In malignant tonsillitis and diphtheritic laryngitis it has been long used with excellent results. In phagedena with gangrenous tendencies wherever located, it has exercised a markedly curative influence. It is useful in dysentery where there is offensive breath and fetid discharges of a dark prune juice character.

"In scarlet fever, with its specific indications, it is a useful remedy. Large doses are not necessary, but it should be employed early and the use persisted in. In the treatment of low fevers this agent is said to exercise marked sedative power over the fever. Homeopathic physicians prescribe it to control the fever. There is no doubt that in proportion as the cause of the fever is destroyed, the temperature abates. Any inhibitory influence directly upon the heart and circulation cannot be attributed to it, yet it soothes cerebral excitement to a certain extent, having a beneficial influence upon delirium.

"It is advised in all diseases of the glandular system, and in hepatic derangements especially, with symptoms of the character. In the various forms of stomatitis, putrid sore throat and scarlatina; in inflammation of the bowels, where there is a tendency to typhoid conditions, especially ulcerative inflammation of any of the internal organs; in dyspepsia, with great irritability and offensive decomposition of food; in scrofula and in cutaneous infections, the agent should be long continued. In the long protracted and sluggish forms of fevers, with great depression of the vital forces; in ulceration of the nipples or mammary glands, or of the cervix uteri, it is spoken highly of. There is a dynamic influence exercised by Baptisia upon the entire glandular structure of the body, more particularly upon the intestinal glands. This influence directly reinforces the blood in its effort to throw off the disease and restore normal conditions. It is because of this influence that it is of value in typhoid.

"Dr. Hainey says that in whatever condition the patient complains of difficult respiration, where the lungs feel compressed, where the patient cannot lie down because of fear of suffocation, if he sleeps, he has found Baptisia in small doses every hour positively curative. He got this suggestion from a homeopathist and he has proven it to be reliable. "Others have found typhoid cases with the characteristic symptoms, where the brain seems to be overwhelmed with toxins, where the patient has times where the breathing is rapid or panting, alternated with slow respiration, in which this remedy is very prompt. The condition may also be present in diphtheria, and in the so-call black measles or other highly infectious disorders. "It will thus be seen that the agent is properly classed among the alteratives, as its alterative properties stand first, but its pronounced tonic influence will be quickly observed. It overcomes weariness "that tired feeling, " produces a sense of vigor & general improved tone and well-being."

Combinations: For the treatment of infections it may be used with Echinacea and Myrrh. For lymphatic problems it can be combined with Cleavers and Poke Root.

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: put l/2-l teaspoonful of the dried root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take lml of the tincture three times a day.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Baptisia

Wild IndigoBeuscher N Kopanski L [Stimulation of immunity by the contents of Baptisia tinctoria]

Planta Med (1985 Oct) (5):381-4Beuscher N Scheit KH Bodinet C Kopanski L [Immunologically active glycoproteins of Baptisia tinctoria]Planta Med (1989 Aug) 55(4):358-63

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 About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......moreDavid Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH
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