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What is Gnaphalium?

By Deborah Walker
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Gnaphalium is a genus of about 120 biennial and perennial flowering herbs in the Asteraceae, or daisy, family. It is native to the eastern U.S. and other temperate climates. Practitioners prescribe this herb for respiratory, digestive, and musculoskeletal conditions as well as an aid to quit smoking. The homeopathic remedy has no known side effects; when taken as a tea, sweating may result. Consumers may purchase it in herbal or homeopathic form at local health food stores or online.

Commonly known as rabbit tobacco, Cherokee tobacco, or cudweed, Gnaphalium grows to be 8-39 inches (20-100 centimeters) tall, depending on the species. It prefers to live in damp, sandy, and acidic soil. This plant can tolerate U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 6-11, which means that the lowest temperature Gnaphalium plants can survive in is -10° Fahrenheit (-23.3° Celsius). It produces white or white-green blooms in late summer or early fall. The entire plant is harvested during flowering and is used to make herbal and homeopathic remedies.

Species in this genus are said to have anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic properties and are often prescribed as an herbal supplement for colds, flu, pneumonia, tonsillitis, larygitis, and congestion. Taken as an herbal hot tea, Gnaphalium, is a popular treatment for respiratory problems and neuritis among the Lumbee Native American tribe. The herb is known to cause intense sweating when consumed as hot tea, however.

As people try to quit smoking, Gnaphalium obtusofolium may be used in place of tobacco cigarettes. Although this so-called Cherokee tobacco does not contain nicotine, some people report that it eliminates nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It may be purchased in bulk and rolled into cigarettes or smoked in a pipe.

In homeopathy, doctors select remedies by matching their patients' symptoms with a standardized profile of each homeopathic compound. A remedy is considered correct when the patient's symptoms match those outlined in its profile. According to anecdotal reports, patients who complain of chronic lower back pain that radiates down the leg, i.e., sciatica, have shown improvement after taking homeopathic Gnaphalium. Patients with rheumatism, diarrhea, and an increase in urination, combined with sporadic upper jaw pain, may benefit from Gnaphalium as well.

Aside from the harmless profuse sweating that occurs after consuming Gnaphalium herbal hot tea, there are no known side effects for either the herbal or homeopathic remedies. Even so, it is important for pregnant or nursing women to check with their doctor prior to using either the herbal or homeopathic forms of this supplement. The elderly and those with chronic illness should also speak with their doctor before taking this remedy.

Consumers may purchase the herb in bulk at local or online health food stores. It may be somewhat difficult to locate the herb packaged as a supplement pill or tablet. The homeopathic remedy is much easier to find. It is often sold in pellet form, as an alcohol-based tincture, or in a water-based liquid dilution at health food stores or better markets locally or online.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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