Stoneroot is a perennial herb that is part of the mint family of plants. Growing up to 4 feet (1.219 m) tall, stoneroot is known for its sturdy, square stem and knobby roots, the inspiration behind the herb's name. It is also recognizable for its toothed oval leaves, which are thin, broad, pointed, and up to 8 inches (20.32 cm) long. Stoneroot flowers in the late summer in clusters of loose yellow blossoms. It has a lemony and somewhat sour fragrance, and a bitter taste.
This herb is most commonly found in damp and shady landscapes. It is native to North America and grows in the rich soil between Canada to the Carolinas. The name of this herb is sometimes alternatively spelled as "stone root." It is also called by other colloquial names, including richweed, knobweed, knobroot, and horseweed.
English botanist Peter Collinson discovered the plant in the 18th century, leading to its scientific name: Collinsonia Canadensis. Stoneroot was valued for its healing properties by the American Indian nations, and used in a number of different treatments. For use in most herbal remedies, the tough root must be crushed with an iron mortar or other grinder — a difficult process. While stoneroot can be combined with water and alcohol, it has been suggested that boiling eliminates its medicinal properties.
The root and sometimes the leaves, have been used to create medicinal teas, which work as a diuretic, as well as washes, gargles, and lotions. Applied as a poultice, stoneroot has been used to treat burns, sprains, contusions, and ulcers. For illnesses of the throat, the herb is used to treat laryngitis, bronchitis, and coughs. Other maladies that stoneroot has been used to treat include hemorrhoids, colic, varicose veins, dysentery, and general listlessness.
There is no information available yet about how exactly stoneroot functions as a healing agent, and it has lost popularity as a common remedy. The plant has been threatened by diminishing natural habitat, especially in the Eastern United States. Nonetheless, it continues to be championed as an alternative treatment by some homeopathic practitioners and private companies, some of whom make the herb available in capsule form.
Anyone using stoneroot or other herbal remedies should contact a doctor to make sure that it does not interfere with any other medications. This herb is generally considered safe, although it is not recommended for pregnant women or those who are nursing. High doses may cause stomach irritation, dizziness, and nausea.