What is Snake Weed?
This plant has plenty of names but it is typically referred to as snake weed because it can be used to treat snake bites amongst sheep. Other names you may come across with are broom weed, match weed, tawa-tawa, asthma plant, and porter weed. Its binomial name is gutierrezia sarothrae, and it is a species of flowering plant that belongs in the daisy family.
It takes roots from different parts of the globe, such as North America, Western Canada, and Northern Mexico. This type of plant is not usually easy to spot since it generally grows up until 2 feet tall.
It has a broom-like appearance, hence its other name, because of the way the stems die back when they are dormant. The stems themselves are bushy and herbaceous, and they are in the shades of green to brown.
They are sticky when you touch them because they are resinous, and some have a smooth layer while some have short hairs.
Around July until September, there blooms a cluster of small and yellow ray flowers at the end of the stem. When flowering, the plant looks domed because its stems are usually at the same length. Despite its size, every single year, a plant is able to produce over 9000 seeds.
Snake weed has an average lifespan of two and a half years, and it usually begins its growth sometime during the later winter or in early spring because this is when other forage is in short supply. Animals are generally kept away from lands where snake weed grows because it can be fatal for them; some even result to an abortion amongst cattle.
Snake weed may be mostly distributed throughout North America, still this plant is used all over the world, and it may even thrive in places where there is little to no rain because of its incredible drought tolerance. It is being used in different ways in different parts of the world, but its common thread is that it brings a lot of health benefits to people. For instance, in Australia, they use snake weed to treat asthma and pectoral complaints.
In India, on the other hand, snake weed is for the treatment of syphilis. In Brazil, it is used as a treatment for gonorrhea and asthma. Meanwhile, in Africa, it is used as a treatment for hypertension and edema. In the Philippines, it is referred to as tawa-tawa and it is used as a cure for dengue. It can be toxic, however, to a few animals when taken in large quantities. This is because snake weed contains saponins, which is a toxic compound that produces foam when shaken with water. It proves to be toxic enough to even cause death or illness, and so it is not very much beneficial for animals in a large amount.
Medicinal Properties of Snake Weed
Snake weed has numerous properties and components that make it a desirable plant for medicinal purposes. Some of its components are the following: gallic acid, phytosterol, cetyl alcohol, melissic, linoleic acid, palmitic, quercitin, triacontane, phytosterolin, leucocianidol, quercitrol, oleic, and euphorbianin.
Snake weed contains antimicrobial, antiasthmatic, antidiuretic, and anthelmintic properties. These components make snake weed ideal as a cure for different health conditions. Its plant ethanol extracts are proven to inhibit any kind of bacterial growth, and so it is able to prevent any diarrhea. It also effective against fungal and amoeba infection.
Since it is antiasthmatic, it is able to relax any sort of spasm that may occur throughout the body. The plant is antidiuretic because it contains phytochemical tannins and flavonoids, which are active extracts that promote water absorption as well as electrolyte reabsorption. Moreover, because of its anthelmintic effect, it is able to kill worms so the plant is useful for people who are suffering from stomach indigestion due to bacteria that may be found there brought upon by worms. Lastly, snake weed has antispasmodic properties, because it contains shikimic acid and choline. These properties are responsible for treating any allergies, even late stage allergies.
The different parts of the plant serve different purposes, too. For instance, the juice of the plant may be used to treat abdominal pains, while the crushed leaves may be used to stop the bleeding on any area of the body once they are applied to the affected parts. When dealing with skin issues, the decoction of the plant is a good antidote, especially if the plant is dry.
When dealing with eye issues, on the other hand, the milky juice of the plant is a good treatment. The decoction of the plant is good for other reasons too, like to treat different conditions such as colds, dizziness, and coughs. When bitten by a snake or insects, then the root of the plant can be applied in order to avoid succumbing to their toxins or poison.
10 Health Benefits of Snake Weed
There are numerous health benefits brought by the use of snake weed, and these range from eye and skin infections to respiratory problems. Here are the top 10 health benefits of snake weed:
1. Treats Dengue Fever
Snake weed is legendary, especially in the Philippines, as a treatment for dengue. Dengue is a viral infection brought upon by mosquitos, and it can become lethal when not treated right away. It causes flu-like symptoms, and it can mostly be found in tropical and sub-tropical climates. One of the troubling factors of dengue is it can lower down your platelet production at a staggering rate, causing for your body to succumb faster to any illnesses, and snake weed is known for increasing a person’s platelet production. However, as a precaution, snake weed should be consumed for more than 24 hours during the beginning stages of dengue fever.
2. Supports Respiratory System
When you crush dried snake weed and inhale it, it is said that it can help you clear any chest congestion, and thus consequently, it can support your respiratory system. Certain respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis, may be treated due to this plant. These conditions make it difficult for the person to breathe normally because the airway is being tightened up, or because there are inflammatory problems in the lungs brought upon by a particular virus. You may consume snake weed tea in order to help your breathing, or you may inhale the plant directly. The resin or sap of the plant is mixed with any type of drink and this can relieve the symptoms of asthma.
3. Helps Nursing Mothers
Breastfeeding is difficult, especially for some women who find it hard to produce milk. There are also some women who are unable to produce milk. Breastfeeding is an important and natural process between mothers and their newborn children, because it provides all the necessary nutrients for the young. For those who are having difficulty providing breast milk for their children, snake weed may be of help because it is a galactagogue, which means it is a breast milk stimulant. The plant’s root decoction is where the necessary nutrients are needed to help nursing mothers. It helps that the plant is anti-bacterial, so the baby will be safe from any toxins or harm.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
This plant is antihypertensive, which is great for people who suffer from high blood pressure. There are different factors that can lead to high blood pressure, and some of these stem from bad eating habits and lifestyle choices. However, some are unavoidable like age and genetics, and so it is helpful to have natural antidotes to the problem. Snake weed helps by stopping angiotensin into converting enzyme, and therefore increasing electrolytes and urine output. This may be consumed as a form of tea, and it is advisable to include one to three teaspoons of snake weed leaves in one cup of water.
5. Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Snake weed is also actually a relaxing agent, and so it may reduce your anxiety and stress. Both these things can lead to serious illnesses if ignored and not treated properly. One way to combat your stress and anxiety is, of course, to make better lifestyle habits. But at times, stress can be unavoidable especially due to the daily humdrum of life. You may boil 50 grams of snake weed leaves in four cups of water in order to relieve yourself of your stress or anxieties. Make sure to drink it while it is warm so it will be more effective.
6. Treats Optical Illnesses
A few drops of the plant’s milky fluid are said to be enough to cure any of your optical diseases. Also, if you find yourself with a sty in your eye, then the resin of the plant is a great treatment to the problem. There are not a lot of natural herbs that can help eye infections, and the fact that snake weed can be found in most places of the world is helpful, especially for those who cannot afford an eye doctor. However, if possible, consult an eye doctor for the best snake weed eye product.
7. Heals Wound
Snake weed is a good treatment for open wounds, and other skin problems like warts and fungi. An open wound is an invitation for bacteria to get in, and when the germs are spread, it may lead to blood poisoning, or worse, the affected part of the body may have to be cut off. And so, it should not be taken lightly. Warts and fungi can spread easily, too, especially through direct contact or when someone is going to touch the object of a person with the condition. Snake weed can help get rid of these by applying its leaves onto the skin. There are dried or fresh powder coming from snake weed leaves that are available that may be the most helpful for these skin conditions.
8. Improves Dental Health
Since the plant has anti-bacterial properties, it may also be used to improve a person’s dental health. Snake weed tea may be used as a gargle so the germs inside the mouth can be killed. There are actually numerous kinds of bacteria that grow in your mouth, and these germs are active since they are competing for places to grow where they can get the most food. In each tooth alone, there is already at least a million bacteria growing, and this can grow up until a billion. And so, it is important to think of oral hygiene, and snake weed tea is a powerful and natural ingredient that can combat against all the bacteria in your mouth.
9. Prevents Dehydration
If you are strangely addicted to caffeine or alcohol, then snake weed tea is a great alternative for you. Snake weed is actually antidiuretic, which means you will get help with your fluid balance. It helps you prevent dehydration by absorbing electrolytes and water in the body system. The roots and the flowers of snake weed are used to make a concoction that can help you treat fluid retention. Dehydration can be hazardous because it can reduce the amount of blood in your body, which will then lead to other serious illnesses. If you are tired of drinking water only, then you may add snake weed tea to your daily routine.
10. Treats Diarrhea
One of snake weed’s key benefits is its ability to improve your digestion, and to cure any stomach problems that may occur. When you have consumed too much contaminated dishes, then you may develop diarrhea. Because of snake weed’s strong anti-bacterial properties, its decoction is proven to help you by alleviating chronic diarrhea and vomiting. The juice of snake weed can also be used to heal any stomach ailments. Simply one teaspoon of its leaves mixed in a cup of water is enough to cure your stomach problems, but you may drink up to four cups of snake weed tea per day.
How to Make Snake Weed Tea
As mentioned above, snake weed tea proves to be helpful when it comes to treating several health conditions. This can be found in most local markets as a form of tea or capsule, which both may be consumed as a drink when mixed with warm water. But if you want to make your own tea using the plant that you have grown yourself, then here are the steps for you to follow so you may consume it safely.
You will first need five to six whole snake weed plant from the ground. Only the herbs of the plant will be used, so you may get rid of the roots. Make sure to wash and clean the rest of the plant so there will not be any unnecessary components found. Boil enough water in a pot, and place your snake weed plant inside for a full minute. Once you have finished this, then your snake weed tea is ready for you to consume.
As a precaution, it is not advisable to take in too much of snake weed tea on the daily as large doses can be fatal. For those who are suffering from dengue, for instance, a glass of snake weed may be enough every hour until the fever has been calmed down. After preparation, snake weed tea can only be drunk for 24 hours because after that, it will already be expired.
How to Use Snake Weed (Internal and External)
Indeed, there are snake weed tea, capsules, or powder that you may consume directly, but there are also other ways for you to use snake weed. For instance, as for its external use, you may crush the entire plant until it produces the watery liquid inside of it. You may then apply this liquid onto your skin so may treat any open wound, sores, or boils all over your body. Or you may even use this liquid as an eyedrop or eardrop when you are having issues with both your eyes and ears. Of course, it goes without saying that you should not do these things without the consultation of your physician as you may be allergic to snake weed without your knowledge.
There is also even the spread of snake weed oil in the market, and its traditional uses are for those with arthritic or rheumatic conditions, mosquito bites, and muscle trauma. Snake weed oil may be applied directly, but some prefer to dilute them by mixing it with water. When applying to an affected area, one to three drops should be more than enough. Snake weed oil may also even be used as a perfume, but it is not advisable to place too much onto the skin because it can also be hazardous.
However effective snake weed may be, it should still be consumed with caution. Large doses may be fatal because they may cause nausea, vomiting, or even gastrointestinal reaction. It should not also be used in the long run when the patient is already cured of his or her illness/es because a prolonged intake of snake weed may interfere with a person’s iron absorption. Snake weed is also not recommended for pregnant women. For a safe and better process, consult your physician.
Modern Research on Snake Weed
Currently, there are numerous researches being done regarding the relationship of snake weed plant with livestock. When snake weed grows in an abundant amount in a single space, then it proves to be hazardous for animals’ health. This is because snake weeds contain different components such as alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, and terpenes which are all compounds that can poison rangeland livestock. While it may be proven to be dangerous for some animals, snake weed is generally regarded as beneficial as it has a lot of health benefits for humans.
Studies have shown that the entire plant can be used as an antidote since it is considered as soporific, homeostatic, and sedative. Vaccines containing snake weed as a key ingredient also do not produce vomiting of any kind, which proves that they are a real local irritant. Research also shows that snake weed’s effect on the heart and respiration are rational, and that it has produced good results for cases of asthma and emphysema.
Can snake weed really cure dengue?
There are several studies being done, even including by the Department of Health in the Philippines, regarding the validity of snake weed as a cure for dengue. This has been an ongoing conversation for quite some time now, especially because there are rising cases of dengue, especially during rainy season.
Perhaps, one of the most challenging parts of dengue is that Western medicine seem to not have the proper solution to this problem. Instead, it supports the patient, rather than treats him or her. This is why health experts are scrambling for a solution since this affects thousands and thousands of people on the daily, especially for those living in tropical climates.
All the researches and studies being done seem to agree that snake weed is powerful enough to increase platelet production, and while it is not the final and only cure for dengue, it actually gives patients the fighting chance to combat against the deadly virus. In the Philippines, snake weed capsule is being given to patients suffering from dengue, and most of them come out of the hospital after a few days fully-recovered.
This is why it is known as a legendary cure in the country, and the fact that it is accessible for most helps its reputation even more. Until today, clinical tests and studies are still being made due to the promising case of snake weed as a treatment for dengue.
Snake weed is yet another example of herbal medicine that is proven to bring a lot of health benefits. It is a more accessible solution to certain conditions, and since it is a natural antidote, it is also safe. Snake weed may be used to treat different conditions such as skin problems, fever, indigestion, and even respiratory problems. There are different uses for snake weed, but its most common way of intake is when it is turned into tea. There is a safe way in order to make snake weed tea, but everyone should still be cautious when it comes to their intake.