Long before the invention of modern medicine, people relied on plants to cure their aches, pains, and illnesses. Although it can be mistaken for a pesky weed, milkweed has a long history of improving a variety of health conditions. The name, milkweed, comes from the milky white sap the plant secretes when punctured. Within the sap, are steroids called cardenolides, which exhibit cardiotonic properties that produce many of milkweed's medicinal properties. For centuries, people have been reaping its benefits.
Common milkweed was once used by Native Americans and early American settlers, both internally and externally. The sap of the plant was applied topically to remove warts, and the roots were chewed to cure dysentery. Infusions of the roots and leaves were taken to suppress coughs and used to treat typhus fever and asthma. Additional uses included the treatment of eczema, tumors, leprosy, ringworm, fever, headache, and heart conditions.
Several species of milkweed are still used today by herbalists. The common milkweed is used as a treatment for warts, ringworm, and other skin ailments. Milkweed seed oil, found in Milkweed Balm, is used to soothe sore muscles. Since milkweed seed oil is full of Omega 7s, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, it helps with arthritis, neuropathy, sports injuries, and more.
Beyond its medicinal uses, milkweed is essential for the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Not only does native milkweed provide the only food source for monarch caterpillars, but it provides nectar for a variety of other pollinators. With so many important uses, it might be wise to plant milkweed in your flower garden.