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Skunk cabbage

What is it?

Skunk cabbage is an herbal medicine used to treat cough, asthma, and other breathing problems. It may be a slight sedative (causes relaxation or sleep). American Indians used skunk cabbage as a poultice (ground herb, placed on skin) on splinters and thorns to heal skin wounds.

Other names for Skunk cabbage include: Symplocarpus foetidus, Dracontium foetidum L, Meadow Cabbage, Pole-Cat Cabbage, and Skunkweed.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Skunk Cabbage you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Skunk Cabbage. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Warnings:

  • Before taking Skunk Cabbage, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • The fresh plant may cause skin blistering if touched (3)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Redness, itching, or blistering of the skin if the plant is touched (2,6)
  • Nausea (upset stomach), dizziness, or headache (2,6)

References:

1. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association, Keighley, UK; 1983.

2. Chevallier, A: The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. DK Publishing Company, New York, NY; 1996.

3. Mabey R (ed): The Complete New Herbal. Elm Tree Books, London, UK; 1988.

4. Newall CA, Anderson LA & Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health-care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

6. Mitchell J & Rook A: Botanical Dermatology. Greengrass, Vancouver, BC; 1979.


Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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