There are a number of valuable medicinal uses of pineappleweed, including its role in preventing parasitic infection, aiding sleep, reducing fever, boosting the immune system, improving skin health, speeding healing, soothing the digestive system, lowering stress levels and increasing milk production. There are also some important side effects to be aware of, such as severe allergic reactions, skin inflammation and stomach upset. If you are using this herb for the first time, speak with a doctor about your specific medical conditions, and also be sure that you are preparing/using this herb in the proper way.
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What is Pineappleweed?
Pineappleweed goes by a number of common names, including wild chamomile and disc mayweed, but it is scientifically known as Matricaria discoidea. Native to North America, this plant grows roughly to 1 foot in height and bears yellow, cone-shaped flower heads that resemble small pineapples. Interestingly enough, when the flowers are crushed, they also give off a slight aroma of pineapple, as well as the aroma of chamomile, hence the common names. The cone-shaped flower heads are the valuable part of this plant, as they are used either dried or fresh, most often in pineappleweed tea, which has a clear pineapple scent when brewed. You can also eat the dried or cooked flower heads for an energetic burst, which is why these flowers are often included in homemade trail mixes. The dense nutrient content of this herb includes myrcene, germacrene and geranyl isovalerate, as well as various tannins and glycosides.
Pineappleweed Medicinal Uses
Pineappleweed has been in medicinal use for thousands of years by indigenous peoples in North America and Northeast Asia. Some of these uses include being brewed in a tea, topically applied after solvent extraction, eaten for its internal benefits and cultivated to repel insects.
Tea: Dry flower heads of pineapple weed are often used to brew an herbal tea, and this remains the most popular use of this herb. You only need 5-6 flower heads and can add honey to sweeten the flavor, or dilute the taste of pineapple.
Topical Use: Through a process of solvent extraction, you can pull some of the essential oils out of the flower heads and infuse other carrier oils with it. This can then be topically applied to skin irritation and sore joints. Alternatively, the tea can also be allowed to cool and then applied to the affected area with a compress.
Consumption: Many people choose to eat the flower heads of pineappleweed because they are dense with nutrients and can provide an energetic boost during an active day. Excessive consumption can cause allergic reactions, however, so use with caution.
Insect Repellent: Another popular medicinal use of this herb is to simply let it grow in your home or garden. The scent of this herb works as a very effective insect repellent, and in areas of the world where disease is often spread via mosquito bite, this is definitely a beneficial plant to have around!
There are many impressive health benefits of using pineappleweed for people suffering from fever, insomnia, parasitic infections, chronic pain, inflammatory conditions, skin irritation, wounds, indigestion, stress, low milk production, anxiety and a weak immune system.
One of the oldest and most trusted benefits of using the pineappleweed herb is its sedative effect, which is excellent for people suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders. If you regularly suffer from interrupted sleep or wake up feeling tired, try a cup of pineappleweed tea before you go to bed!
For pain relief, both topical and internal, drinking this tea or applying the cold tea to the painful area are both great options. The active compounds can quickly numb the area and provide relief from your chronic or acute pain.
This herb does have certain antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, as well as antioxidants that can help to improve the appearance and health of the skin. Applying a small amount of the tea or extracted oil on the site of psoriasis, eczema, insect bites and even wrinkles can help minimize their appearance and speed healing.
Stress and Anxiety
The aromatic compounds found in pineappleweed have been linked to lower levels of stress and anxiety, due to the herb’s sedative effects. You can drink this herb in tea form or eat the dried flower heads to help balance your mood and prevent depressive episodes.
As a galactagogue, pineappleweed can help to stimulate the production of breast milk. For new mothers, this can be important, as many women struggle to produce enough milk for their child. That being said, pineappleweed should not be used by pregnant women, although it is safe for breast-feeding mothers.
The primary activities of this herb, when ingested, affect the digestive system, which is where a large amount of immune activity occurs. It can help to balance the bacterial levels in your microflora environment, and also soothe upset stomachs. This can also improve your digestive efficiency and prevent symptoms of constipation, bloating and cramping.
Applying pineappleweed tea or oil to wounds can help to speed the healing process and protect the injuries from infection. Due to the analgesic properties, it can also eliminate the pain of fresh wounds, when used in small quantities.
Traditional use of pineappleweed included the treatment of fevers. It is believed that this tea can stimulate the immune system and induce sweating, which will help to release toxins from the body and stimulate the recovery process.
Pineappleweed has strong anthelmintic properties, meaning that it is particularly good at eliminating any parasitic infections or intestinal worms that may have taken up residence in your body. This can improve your nutrient uptake, and ensure proper growth and development, particularly in areas of the world where parasitic infections are more widespread.
Pineappleweed Side Effects
There are very few side effects of pineappleweed, although allergic reactions, skin inflammation and stomach upset have been reported.
- Gastrointestinal Problems – Internal consumption of this herb (both in tea form and when eating flower heads) is not known to be toxic, although in large quantities, it can cause stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea. Moderate use of this herb is enough to benefit from its various properties.
- Skin Irritation – Topical application of this potent oil can cause skin inflammation, redness and itching, particularly for people with sensitive skin. Applying a small amount of this oil to a patch of skin and waiting a few hours to see if a reaction occurs is the best way to avoid this side effect.
- Allergic Reactions – One of the most common reports regarding pineappleweed is allergic reactions on the skin, lips, tongue, gums, throat and stomach. If you are allergic to other members of the Asteraceae family, such as daisies or sunflowers, you may experience a negative reaction when using this herb.