encyclopedia

Sweet Everlasting

Scientific Names:
Gnaphalium obtusifolium L. [Fam. Asteraceae]

Forms:
Aqueous extract of fresh or dried herb and flowers

Traditional Usage:
– Abdominal Cramps

– Abscesses (mouth and throat)

– Antibacterial

– Anti-inflammatory

– Antimicrobial

– Antioxidant

– Antispasmodic

– Aphrodisiac

– Bone and Joint Problems

– Breathing Disorders

– Catarrh (Respiratory)

– Cellular Regeneration

– Cold and Flu Symptoms

– Coughs

– Cramps

– Digestive Disorders

– Diuretic

– Dyspepsia

– Fever

– Flu

– Gastrointestinal Disorders

– Hemorrhage

– Indigestion

– Infections

– Influenza

– Menstrual Cramps

– Menstrual Difficulties

– Mouth Ulcers

– Neuritis

– Nervous Conditions

– Nosebleed

– Pneumonia

– Sedative

– Sore Throat

– Spasms

– Throat Infections

– Tonsillitis

– Yeast Infections

Overview:
Sweet everlasting, Gnaphalium obtusifolium L. [Fam. Asteraceae], also known as “Life Everlasting”, is a widely distributed herbaceous biennial that grows from 1-3 feet tall. The plant has soft-hairy green leaves and a terminal cluster of white to off-white small flower heads enclosed in dry, petal-like papery bracts. In the earlier half of the twentieth century, life everlasting was one of the most highly regarded remedies on sale in local markets of the southern United States. It was sold as a bitter herbal cold medicine and was also highly valued by the Lumby Indians for colds, flu, acute breathing difficulties, neuritis, coughs and pneumonia. The herb was also commonly put into pillows or smoked as an inhalant to treat serious breathing disorders and bronchial congestions. As an astringent tea, the herb is also beneficial in the treatment of respiratory catarrh (mucous). The leaves and blossoms were traditionally chewed, and the juice swallowed, to treat ulcerations and abscesses of the mouth and throat. A warm infusion was also used to induce sweating and lower body temperature during fevers. The herb is said to be beneficial in the treatment of vascular complaints and menstrual difficulties. Sweet everlasting was also traditionally used as a tea for treating diseases of the bowels, hemorrhages and was applied in fomentations to bruises, abnormal growths and other local afflictions. Studies on a close relative of sweet everlasting, Anaphalis morrisonicola HAY, show significant activity against abnormal cells. Sweet everlasting tea can be used both internally and externally for its antimicrobial properties. Studies on three Mexican Gnaphalium species have demonstrated strong antimicrobial effects, including against several common respiratory and gastrointestinal pathogens and the yeast, Candida albicans. The fresh juice is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. A chest-rub made from life everlasting was popular during the big influenza epidemic of 1941.

Active Ingredients:
Sweet everlasting herb and flowers contain: essential oil; phytosterols; triterpenes; sesquiterpenes; flavonoids; 3,5,7-trihydroxy-6,8-dimethoxyflavone; B-ring unsubstituted flavones; tannins and other ubiquitous compounds.

Suggested Amount:
Sweet everlasting is generally taken as an herbal tea. Culpeper recommends using one ounce (ca. 28g) of the dried herb and flowers for every 500-600ml of boiling water (ca. 1 pint). The recommended dosage for internal use is 2 fluid ounces or approximately 56ml. This infusion can also be used for externally poultices, rinses and gargles.

Drug Interactions:
None known

Contraindications:
Persons who are allergic to daisy family plants [Fam. Asteraceae] may experience allergy symptoms to sweet everlasting.

Side Effects:
Allergic reactions are possible in susceptible persons. Infusions should not be used near the eyes.

References:

Farnsworth NR. 1977. Antitumor activity of Anaphalis morrisonicola. J Pharm Sci. 1977 Nov; 66(11): IV.

Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Sweet Everlasting in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 82.

Kirkland, J., H.F. Mathews, C.W. Sullivan III, and K. Baldwin, eds. 1992. Herbal and Magic Medicine: Traditional Healing Today. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., and London.

Ohlendorf D, Schwarz R, Hansel R. 1971. [3,5,7-trihydroxy-6,8-dimethoxyflavone from Gnaphalium obtusifolium]. Arch Pharm Ber Dtsch Pharm Ges. 1971 Mar; 304(3): 213-5. German.

Villagomez-Ibarra JR, Sanchez M, Espejo O, Zuniga-Estrada A, Torres-Valencia JM, Joseph-Nathan P. 2001. Antimicrobial activity of three Mexican Gnaphalium species. Fitoterapia. 2001 Aug; 72(6): 692-4.