Helonias (Chamaelirium luteum)
Also known as false unicorn and starwort, helonias is a slender herb that grows about 2 feet high. It does not branch. The stem is smooth and the top of this spike is home to small white flowers. The leaves are clustered around the base of the plant. Native to the United States, it grows in woodlands, meadows and other moist spots, flowering only in June and July.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Helonias is used as a tonic for the uterus and as an emmenagogue, to bring on the menses. It is one of the best tonics for the reproductive system that exists. While used most frequently for women, it is beneficial to men as well. It has been used to treat impotence and for liver and kidney problems. It works to normalize the function of the organs. Whenever there is pain in the ovaries, this is the herbal remedy of choice.
It may also be used to prevent a threatened miscarriage and to ease morning sickness during pregnancy. It is also used to treat menopausal symptoms. This herb balances the sex hormones, treats menstrual irregularities, and improves infertility. It helps increase the appetite and it stops hemorrhage. It is also used to treat venereal diseases like gonorrhea. This herb was once used to rid the body of parasitic worms.
Externally Helonias can be used as a gargle for sore throats that produce bad breath.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
A Mother's Cordial, which is still used today by some herbalists, combines helonias with partridge berry, blue cohosh and cramp bark. Another uterine tonic combines helonias with chasteberry and St. John's wort.
Roots The rhizome is the portion used medicinally.
Excessive doses of helonias will induce vomiting and nausea. Extremely large doses may cause heart problems. Do not take this herb during pregnancy unless under the care of a skilled herbalist for the conditions listed above. If you suffer from inflammation of the intestines or stomach, use this herb with caution.
Preparation and Dosage
The rhizome is harvested in the autumn and dried. To make a decoction of helonias, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of the root to a cup of water and simmer it gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this decoction three times per day. In the event of a threatened miscarriage, it may be taken as much as needed. When using a tincture, take 2 to 4 ml three times per day.