1Any of a number of North American plants reputed to contain an antidote to snake poison, in particular:
- (Virginian snakeroot) A birthwort with long heart-shaped leaves and curved tubular flowers (Aristolochia serpentaria, family Aristolochiaceae). (white snakeroot) A poisonous plant which causes milk sickness in livestock (Eupatorium rugosum, family Compositae)..
- Herbal medicine has contributed aspirin from willow bark, reserpine from snakeroot, taxol from the yew tree, but ‘natural’ is not automatically safe.
- Interestingly, according to Vogel, Senega snakeroot was ‘the chief remedy for heart trouble among the Potawatomis and Meskwakis‘.
- Wood wrote that their poison could kill a man in an hour unless he treated the bite with snakeroot, moreover if the victim lived, the snake died.
2Any of a number of plants thought to resemble a snake in shape, in particular Indian snakeroot (see rauwolfia).
- According to legend, mentioned and discredited by Rudyard Kipling in his story ‘Rikki Tikki Tavi,’ mongooses eat Indian snakeroot before engaging in battle with cobras.
- The Natural Database rates valerian (with or without lemon balm) as possibly effective for insomnia; however, they have found insufficient evidence to recommend Indian snakeroot.
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