The monograph was a joint collaboration of AHP and researchers at Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat, Munster, Germany; was reviewed by a multidisciplinary cadre of experts representing traditional herbal medicine, botany, chemistry, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, and boneset cultivation; and included original in-depth investigation characterizing the chemical profile of the plant, leading to the confirmation of the presence of the potentially toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) lycopsamine and intermedine.
According to AHP President Roy Upton, “This was a difficult monograph to do as there is currently a zero tolerance for these types of PAs in herbal products, while the European Union and United Kingdom have developed limits for their presence in herbal products. Interestingly, they have not developed limits for the presence of PAs in commercial foods, with honey being the most common source of exposure, and in which the concentration of PAs is considerably higher and more frequently consumed than boneset. Still, prudence dictates that an appropriate benefit-risk assessment be done if boneset is to be used.”
Boneset was considered one of the most effective botanicals to be used during times of epidemics of both flu and dengue fever. It was formally used in hospitals as a therapeutic agent in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Physicians of the era reported on its efficacy when other medications did not work. Considering super bugs and flu pandemics today, boneset is not a botanical that is easily dismissed. Additionally, the amount of PAs in boneset is very low, as noted lower than many honeys, and boneset is often only used for short periods of time.
While some consider low level PAs to be contributors to liver disorders, other evidence suggests the body has evolved to deal with low level background concentrations of PAs, as occurs through glutathione pathways. Ideally, formal dose-relationship studies both in terms of efficacy and toxicity can be conducted.
Again, according to Upton, “Because of the high degree of efficacy that former physicians reported regarding boneset, it is not an herb that should be lost from the materia medica. Perhaps it should no longer be used in common herbal bitters formulas which are consumed more freely and frequently, but if I had a flu, I would not count out boneset.” All of these issues are presented in detail in the AHP Boneset Aerial Parts Monograph and Therapeutic Compendium.
The AHP Boneset Aerial Parts Monograph and Therapeutic Compendium was made possible by numerous individuals, companies, and organizations who assisted in gathering the authentic samples needed for the development of this monograph.
The monograph was also made possible by the following AHP Memberships at the Sustaining Benefactor, Benefactor, Platinum and Gold Levels:
- Planetary Herbals, Sustaining Benefactor Member
- EuroPharma USA, Benefactor Member
- NOW Foods, Platinum Member
- Nature’s Way, Gold Member
- Traditional Medicinals, Gold Member
The AHP Boneset Aerial Parts Monograph and Therapeutic Compendium (PDF) is available by ordering from the AHP website.