Skunk Cabbage

What other names is Skunk Cabbage known by?

Charogne, Chou Puant, Chou Sconse, Col de Mofeta, Dracontium, Dracontium foetidum, Meadow Cabbage, Polecatweed, Skunkweed, Spathyema Foetida, Spathyéma Mouffette, Swamp Cabbage, Symplocarpe Chou-Puant, Symplocarpe Fétide, Symplocarpus foetidus, Tabac-du-Diable.

What is Skunk Cabbage?

Skunk cabbage is a plant that gets its name from the unpleasant odor it releases. The root and underground stem (rhizome) are used to make medicine.

People take skunk cabbage for a wide variety of conditions. It is used to treat breathing problems including swollen airways (bronchitis), asthma, cough, and whooping cough. It is also used for painful conditions such as joint and muscle pain (rheumatism), headache, and toothache. Some people use it for nervous system disorders including spasms, convulsions, and epilepsy. Skunk cabbage is used for treating infections such as worms, ringworm, and scabies. Other uses include treatment of cancer, fluid retention, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), anxiety, snakebite, skin sores, splinters, swellings, and wounds. Skunk cabbage is also used to stimulate the digestive system.

As a food, the young leaves, roots, and stalks are boiled and eaten.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of skunk cabbage for these uses.

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How does Skunk Cabbage work?

Skunk cabbage contains chemicals that relieve pain and cause relaxation.

Are there safety concerns?

Skunk cabbage is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. Large amounts can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, decreased vision, and stomach cramps.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to use skunk cabbage if you are pregnant. It could start your period or cause the uterus to contract. This might cause a miscarriage.

There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking skunk cabbage if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Stomach or intestinal disorders (such as gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD], ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease): Taking skunk cabbage might make these conditions worse.

Kidney stones: Skunk cabbage contains oxalate, a chemical that the body uses to make kidney stones. Taking skunk cabbage might make kidney stones worse.

Dosing considerations for Skunk Cabbage.

The appropriate dose of skunk cabbage depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for skunk cabbage. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011